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Dean Dan of the Sciences

Dan Rockmore1.jpgThings are looking up. The new Dean of the Faculty, Elizabeth Smith, had a position to fill immediately upon her appointment because she herself had vacated the Associate Dean of the Sciences role in order to become Dean. Her choice: Dartblog favorite Dan Rockmore, the Math and Computer Sciences departments’ Renaissance man. What a happy surprise. Dan’s name had been bruited about over the years as the head of the Science division, but no Dean had ever picked him.

We can surmise that Elizabeth Smith herself made the choice, given that Rockmore and other qualified candidates had not even merited an interview during Phil Hanlon/Carolyn Dever’s Dean of the Faculty search (the one that brought us Bruce Duthu for a while, before Smith was given the job).

Over the years we’ve written about Rockmore’s show at the Museum of Modern Art, his new, edited book about the various academic disciplines, his New Yorker essay about how he has banned the use of laptops in his own classes, and his Wall Street Journal column and film about The Birth of BASIC. Most recently, i.e. the day before yesterday, Rockmore has a piece in Slate about the Neukom Institute’s competition involving human/machine interactions in artistically creative endeavors. Dan is the director of the Neukom Institute. As I said, a Renaissance man.

So here’s to Smith’s choice of Rockmore. Let’s hope that he is tough-minded and rigorous in his role as Associate Dean of the Sciences. Hard decisions will need to be made; winners will win and losing ideas need to lose. Bad compromises help nobody, least of all Dartmouth.

Addendum: Review Dan Rockmore’s Google Scholar findings for the complete list of his publications.

Addendum: John Gregg in the Valley News writes:

Rockmore was to have assumed that associate dean’s post back in 2004, but that got scrapped after his ally, Michael Gazzaniga, the founder of the field of cognitive neuroscience, stepped down as dean of the faculty following an ugly no-confidence vote from a narrow majority of department [and program] heads.

Addendum: An ‘11 recounts a Rockmore anecdote:

In a previous post you discussed Prof Dan Rockmore and his all around excellence. Your post today brought him back into my mind, and gave me cause to share an anecdote demonstrating that, simply put, he is a nice guy.

My junior year, I took a mid-level math course with him, and unfortunately I had to miss a Thursday midterm in his course due to a funeral. Additionally, I had to catch a 9 am Friday bus to leave town for an away football game. His solution: he came in at 6AM Friday morning, two young children in tow, and allowed me to take the exam in his office before the bus departed. He also brought me a coffee.

For the department chair to wake up his kids early to proctor a makeup exam, instead of just sending a grad student or not accommodating my unique situation, speaks volumes about his commitment to undergrads. This is a guy who truly cares about his students.


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