Andrew Douglas says he will be a caretaker dean. He expects, however, to be a very busy one.
"Mine is not the mandate to do anything dramatic but to keep going and not let anything slip," Douglas said.
President Brody announced last week that he had appointed Douglas, the associate dean for academic affairs in the Whiting School of Engineering, to serve as the school's interim dean until a successor to Dean Ilene Busch-Vishniac arrives. The search has narrowed to a handful of finalists, and it is likely a new dean will be on board by the beginning of 2004, Provost Steven Knapp said.
Meanwhile, Douglas will be doing a lot more than just keeping a chair warm for the fall semester.
"There are some very big issues on which the Whiting School has to keep moving forward," Douglas said.
For one, he said, he will be working with Dean Daniel Weiss and Vice Dean Adam Falk of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences to finalize the details of a faculty-recommended proposal for changes in the tenure system for the Homewood Schools. For another, he will be organizing faculty debate on the recent report of the Whiting School's external review committee.
Work remains to be done on proposals for new research and academic collaborations with the Applied Physics Laboratory. Planning also is under way for a new computer science building, and the interim dean will be deeply involved in fund raising for that and other Whiting School priorities in the Johns Hopkins: Knowledge for the World campaign.
Though he will appoint an interim replacement for himself as associate dean, Douglas intends to remain in charge of the school's portion of the university's once-every-10-year accreditation and of the Whiting School's own upcoming reaccreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. He will also continue to supervise the school's Part-time Programs in Engineering and Applied Science.
"He will have a lot on his plate, and I thank him for his willingness to take on this challenging assignment for the good of the school and the university," Brody wrote last week in announcing the appointment. "He is ideally qualified to guide the school through this transitional semester. He truly understands the unique mission of engineering education and the importance of research and teaching at the forefront of technological innovation, both for the school and for the university as a whole."
Douglas joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1983, winning promotion to professor a decade later and serving as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1997 to 1999. He has been associate dean since July 1999. He has been the winner of Johns Hopkins awards for excellence in teaching and service to undergraduates.
"Andrew has served the Whiting School in a variety of capacities, including membership on the Academic Council and a term as chair of a major department," Knapp said. "In his role as associate dean, he has been an important advocate for the school in a variety of settings. He was a key participant in the work of the Commission on Undergraduate Education."
A native of South Africa, Douglas earned his undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Cape Town and master's and doctoral degrees from Brown University. His research has focused on soft biological tissues and organs such as the heart and tongue. He holds a joint appointment in biomedical engineering.
Dean Busch-Vishniac announced a year ago that she would step down at the end of her five-year term to assume the presidency of the Acoustical Society of America and her faculty position in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.