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CONTACT: Marisa Cigarroa, News Service (650) 725-9750;

Shoven will step down as dean in six months

John Shoven, the Charles Schwab Professor of Economics, will step down as dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences at the end of this academic year, Provost Condoleezza Rice announced at the Jan. 8 Faculty Senate meeting.

"John has been an extraordinary dean," said Rice, who noted that despite the demands of being the top administrator of the largest school in the university, Shoven has managed to continue teaching graduate students and maintain a strong presence in his field.

Shoven, who has been at Stanford since 1973 and was chair of the economics department from 1986 to 1989, said he wants to devote more time to teaching and research.

During his deanship, Shoven oversaw a number of curricular reforms, including the development of the minors program, the Program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and the Introduction to the Humanities, which replaced the Program in Cultures, Ideas and Values. He also instituted the practice of regular departmental reviews and "leaves a legacy of first-rate faculty appointments," Rice said.

On the fund-raising front, Shoven spearheaded efforts to endow a number of new chairs to the school, including the endowment of the deanship itself.

In other business, the senate reviewed revisions to the standing rules on faculty grievance procedures, which it has the authority to veto but not amend, and renewed the graduate interdisciplinary program in immunology.

Brad Osgood, professor of mathematics, reported on the progress of the Science, Mathematics and Engineering Core, which is now in its second year. He announced that a fourth track may soon be added to the multidisciplinary program for non-science majors.

Several professors involved in the innovative core curriculum attended the senate meeting. All agreed that one of the biggest benefits of the course is the amount of knowledge they have garnered by working with their colleagues in the team-taught courses.

"I've learned so much about their disciplines, and I have so many more kinds of examples I can use in teaching things within my own discipline," said Sharon Long, professor of biological sciences, who is part of the teaching team in the "Light" track.

Such an approach, however, is also extremely time-consuming, and, at times, frustrating for faculty and students alike, the professors conceded.

"It's definitely tougher than many of the easier classes that [students] could take," said Martin Blunt, professor of petroleum engineering, who teaches in the "Earth" track. Some of this difficulty stems from the fact that students must adapt to different subject matters and teaching styles of several different professors, he said.

While the professors do their best to work in unison, pulling the material together in a seamless fashion is a difficult task that takes up much of their "time, focus and energy," Long said.

Despite these challenges, those involved are as enthusiastic as ever about teaching science to non-scientists.

"I think it is almost a privilege to be able to explain to students some of the basic science and some of the major issues that will be affecting them in their lifetimes," Blunt said.


By Marisa Cigarroa

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