A message from Dean Douglas Elmendorf, Academic Dean David Deming, and Academic Dean for Teaching and Curriculum Suzanne Cooper.
We’re writing to tell you about a new leadership role we’re establishing to help the Kennedy School operate more effectively and, specifically, to increase faculty input to the School’s operations.
This new role will be the Academic Dean for Faculty Engagement, and we are delighted that Erica Chenoweth has agreed to take this role.
Our decision to create this position grew out of discussions over the past few months with the members of the Faculty Steering Committee. (The FSC currently comprises the Dean, Academic Dean, Academic Dean for Teaching and Curriculum, the Area Chairs, and the Program Chairs; several senior staff members serve ex officio and are included for some but not all topics of discussion.) The members of the FSC felt that the scope of engagement between the Deans and the faculty was too narrow, and the Deans agreed. Because we already have a wide range of issues for which we are responsible, increasing the scope of engagement with faculty requires adding a new position.
As the Academic Dean for Faculty Engagement, Erica will seek to increase faculty participation in the Kennedy School’s management by raising faculty awareness of key issues and bringing more faculty voices into the resolution of those issues. Specifically, Erica will:

  • Chair the Faculty Steering Committee (on which the Dean and other Academic Deans will continue to serve);
  • Interact on an ongoing basis with faculty members across the School to hear their perspectives and bring those perspectives to the Deans and the FSC, and to communicate with faculty about School developments;
  • Participate in regular meetings of the Deans and senior staff to help identify emerging topics of importance to the faculty and to ensure that the faculty perspective is heard;
  • Work with the other Deans on the topics, scheduling, materials, and invitation lists for FSC meetings, meetings of the senior faculty (apart from promotion and review meetings), and all-faculty meetings—with a particular eye to using the FSC effectively to tee up topics for discussion (and sometimes voting) by the senior faculty or the entire faculty;
  • Develop processes for revising, and implement changes to, the Faculty Handbook;
  • Support faculty governance, including exploring the possibility of elected faculty representation on the FSC or the creation of other bodies for faculty governance;
  • Interface routinely with the other Academic Deans to coordinate tasks and minimize duplicative work; and
  • Provide support and advice to the Dean on all faculty matters as needed.

As Academic Dean, David will continue to handle academic appointments and promotions, including chairing the Appointments Committee; he will also continue to be a source of wise guidance and a crucial channel for bringing faculty perspectives to bear on decisions at the School. As Academic Dean for Teaching and Curriculum, Suzanne will continue to handle many aspects of teaching and curriculum as well as reviewing sponsored research proposals and addressing other topics around the School that involve faculty. Erica will take up their new role as Academic Dean for Faculty Engagement in September.
Best wishes,
Doug, David, and Suzanne