July 17, 2018 | ° F

Dean search advances, alum vies for position

The day after Douglas Greenberg graduated from the University, he said he woke up at 3 a.m., while it was still dark, bursting with excitement. He hopped in his car, a beat-up 1962 Buick Special, ready to drive to Ithaca, N.Y. to attend graduate school at Cornell University.

"I remember saying to myself, as I drive up College Avenue, my life is going to begin," said Greenberg, a candidate running for the position of the School of Arts and Sciences executive dean.

He said he was excited to finally leave Middlesex County, where he had lived all his life.

Although he is now graying and wearing a suit, he said he was once a long-haired, politically-active undergraduate student.

"And it never occurred to me [before], but it has occurred to me since, that somehow what I saw as a roadway from Rutgers and New Brunswick might actually be a circle. That I might come back. I can only say that if that opportunity were to come to me, I would regard it as a very great honor indeed," Greenberg said.

Greenberg visited Winants Hall on Old Queens campus yesterday afternoon to speak to a group of around 30 faculty members about his qualifications as a candidate for the position.

The speech was part of the process of selecting the right candidate to take the job, said Kenneth Breslauer, the vice president of Health Science Partnerships.

Greenberg said he wants to improve admissions with a focus on excellence and diversity. He said he also wants to improve opportunities for undergraduate research, recruit a more diverse staff and focus on more fundraising.

Greenberg outlined his job experiences in his speech, saying that they are varied and not always within academia. But he said being a leader of nonprofit historical companies allowed him to experience working within a tight budget.

He said working outside of a University setting for much of his career is probably a weakness for him in terms of being dean, but it also may be a strength.

"That is, I think you have to sometimes go away in order to see things clearly," he said. "And I think that one strength is having overseen two nonprofit corporations - how to make and frame budget, about how to make choices."

His work also allowed him to travel to places and see things, and to feel he has an intellectual life to give as a dean, he said, adding that he worked for the Shoah Foundation Institute of Visual History and the Chicago Historical Society, among others.

He said he helped gather a library of testimony from Holocaust survivors and wants his next project to be understanding genocides around the world.

"I was absolutely, totally fascinated by history," he said.

He said he tended to work at things he really loved and paid no attention to things he didn't love, but the core requirements one needs to fulfill for a degree at the University allowed him to be flexible during his career. This flexibility helped as he journeyed to 40 countries around the world, he said.

"I think deans need eclectic experience, and I think the experience I had here I bring with me wherever I go," Greenberg said.

But Greenberg, in addition to his nonprofit experiences, also went academic. He has written books and served as associate dean at Princeton University.

"He covered a wide range of issues, and has a vision," said Joanna Regulska, dean of the Department of International Programs. "He is certainly able to engage with faculty, and a wide range of experience is also, I think, important."

Barbara Cooper, the director for the Center for African Studies, said she found his 40-minute speech inspirational.

"I thought he seemed to know New Jersey really well and was really excited about it, and it's infectious," Cooper said.

She said she is glad they are getting started on strong footing, as he is the first of three candidates to come to the University.

This meeting followed a series of meetings Greenberg had with faculty and administrators that day, Breslauer said.

A search committee interviewed many candidates and distilled them down to three potentials, he said.

Greenberg is going through the second round of scrutiny - the judgment of students, faculty and others on the University payroll. This process, Breslauer said, consists of a bottomless pit of meetings.

At the end of this process, Vice President of Academic Affairs Philip J. Furmanski and University President Richard L. McCormick will take all the input they have received on the three candidates and make a decision, he said.

Students, faculty and administrators can add their input on candidates through a form on the University's Web site.

Michelle Walbaum

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