Chancellor professor of physics Gene Tracy was named the interim dean of Arts and Sciences at the College of William and Mary Feb. 1. The appointment will take effect July 1.
Tracy will replace current dean of Arts and Sciences Carl Strikwerda, who will become the president of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. The announcement of the search for a permanent replacement for Strikwerda will occur at the end of the spring semester.
“Over the next few months I need to come up to speed on the issues facing [the school of Arts and Sciences],” Tracy said in an e-mail. “I hope to meet with the Faculty Affairs Committee, the chairs and program directors, and other groups to hear what is of most concern to them. I would also like to hear from the students.”
Tracy said his job will be dominated by the major issues facing the school of Arts and Sciences.
“The budget situation is going to be a real challenge over the next few years. But, I am cautiously optimistic that we will solve those problems, and that we are poised to surge forward as we do so,” Tracy said. “Everyone knows we can’t go on like we have been, and that the quality of our educational program is at risk if we continue to try and do it on the cheap.”
He joked that smaller issues, such as finding where the good coffee is hidden, will also present themselves as challenges.
Next year’s curriculum review was a third challenge for Tracy, one in which he hopes both faculty and students will get involved.
“I am hoping that we will have good discussions about what our goals are, and what makes a William & Mary education special,” Tracy said. “The curriculum itself should flow from those deeper principles, not the other way around.”
The school of Arts and Sciences is the largest school at the College, including 5,600 students.
As for setting his sights on applying for the position permanently, Tracy said it may be too early to tell.
“There will be a national search starting in the summer for the permanent replacement,” he said. “I think it’s too early for me to say what I plan to do then. Let’s see how things go.”
At this point, Tracy said he is more concerned with becoming familiar with his duties.
“I’ve already scheduled a meeting with Dean Strikwerda, who has been very kind in offering to help with the transition,” he said.
Some College administrators have already expressed confidence in Tracy’s appointment.
“Gene Tracy is a dedicated, experienced faculty leader, an excellent scientist who is respected by his colleagues for his integrity and hard work,” Strikwerda said in a press release.
College Provost Michael Halleran sent an e-mail to Arts and Sciences faculty to express his confidence in Tracy’s ability to exemplify the College’s blend of liberal arts education.
After coming to the College as a plasma scientist in 1984, Tracy has taught both graduate and undergraduate physics classes.
Tracy has previously held positions as president of the College’s Faculty Assembly, director of graduate center programs and interim dean of research and graduate studies.