Three University of Wisconsin professors and a former UW faculty member are the finalists set to compete for the position of dean of the College of Letters and Science, the largest college at UW.
The finalists are John Coleman, David McDonald, John Scholz and Jane Tylus.
Three of the four finalists are current UW professors and all have department leadership experience within the College of Letters and Science at UW. A 17-member search and screen committee recommended the finalists to Provost Paul Deluca and Interim Chancellor David Ward, according to a UW statement.
Coleman is the current chair of the political science department and the chair of the Curriculum Committee of the College of Letters and Science.
McDonald chaired the history department until 2010 and chaired the search committee that selected incoming chancellor Rebecca Blank.
Scholz is the current chair of the economics department and the former director of the Institute for Research on Poverty.
Tylus, the only finalist not currently on staff at UW, is a professor of Italian studies and comparative literature and former vice provost at New York University. She taught at UW from 1985 to 2003, chaired the department of comparative literature and the Divisional Committee for the Arts and Humanities before moving to New York.
Jeff Hardin, zoology department chair and professor, chaired the search committee and said the new leader will face many challenges.
“Letters and Science is a huge part of the UW-Madison system as far as teaching, administration and research goes, and whoever is at the helm of that is going to need to be an impressive leader,” Hardin said.
McDonald said budgeting is the greatest challenge facing the new leader of the College of Letters and Science.
“It [College of Letters and Science] is such a complex unit…the next leader has to have a good understanding of the governance culture of the university and honor that,” McDonald said.
All the candidates are scheduled to give public presentations from May 9 through May 16. Students and faculty can fill out surveys, with all feedback to be submitted to Ward, DeLuca and Blank on May 20.
The candidate selected will succeed current Dean Gary Sandefur, who announced his decision to step down and return to the faculty last year.
“I have done my part as dean long enough, and I’m ready to resume my life as a faculty member,” Sandefur said.
All four candidates have at least 18 years of teaching experience at UW.
The College of Letters and Science is the largest academic unit at UW, awarding nearly half of all UW degrees and almost 60 percent of undergraduate degrees last year. The new dean will oversee more than 3,100 faculty and staff positions across departments, programs and research institutes.
Three of the candidates could not be reached for comment.