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Lynn Orr named dean of the School of Earth Sciences
STANFORD -- Professor Franklin "Lynn" M. Orr Jr. has been named dean of the School of Earth Sciences, Stanford University President Gerhard Casper and Provost Condoleezza Rice have announced. He has been serving in the position on an interim basis since Sept. 1, when the previous dean, W. Gary Ernst, returned to teaching and research.
In nominating Orr, the School of Earth Sciences search committee said that he "is an internationally known scholar whose work in the quantitative aspects of fluid behavior in porous media is well respected and has earned him awards and recognition. He is deeply interested in all aspects of the school's activities and shows high potential for effectiveness in representing the school both intra- and extramurally. He is strongly committed to the continuing success of the school and of Stanford."
Orr's selection was greeted by "resounding acclaim," said Professor Emeritus George Thompson, a former earth sciences dean who served on the search committee. During his tenure as interim dean, Orr has been successful at getting the faculty in the school to pull together, Thompson said. "Lynn has very good interpersonal skills and is willing to work at it."
Professor Mark Zoback, chair of the Geophysics Department and a search committee member, said that "it was a pretty straightforward selection process. The important thing is that the faculty and the department chairs are all very glad that he was selected. He's a nice guy. He's done a good job. And he's receptive to new ideas."
During his tenure as interim dean, Orr led the school in a thorough review of the entire earth sciences program, overseen by a visiting committee appointed by the provost last fall. The committee -- consisting of three Stanford faculty members from outside departments, three scientists from other institutions and two industry representatives -- asked the school to respond to a list of questions addressing teaching and research issues. Two schoolwide retreats were held to discuss these issues.
According to Zoback, "Lynn did a really good job leading the school through the retreats and the review process. Not having his own agenda, he can be quite objective about the decisions facing the school."
One outcome of the review was a decision to continue the school's efforts to expand into environmental earth sciences. The process also resulted in a new Ocean Margins Initiative, and the school has submitted a proposal to the provost to add new appointments in related areas.
"Studies of the coastal zones present a considerable opportunity to improve our understanding of how the earth works. These are places where there is a complex interplay between earth, water, air and biology. They are also places where man has the greatest impact on the environment," Orr said.
The search committee was formed in January. It was chaired by George Homsy, professor of chemical engineering. In addition to Thompson and Zoback, its members were Bill Crain, retired director and vice president of Chevron; Gordon Brown, professor of geological and environmental sciences; and Tom Hewett, professor of petroleum engineering.
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