McSween to Repeat as Interim Dean

Harry Y. McSween

Harry Y. McSween

Starting January 1, 2011, Harry Y. McSween (“Hap” to those who know him) will serve as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. His appointment will coincide with Dean Bruce Bursten’s plans to return to the faculty at the end of the year after serving as dean for more than five years.

McSween, a UT Knoxville faculty member for more than 33 years, is currently a Distinguished Professor of Science and a Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, as well as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. No stranger to administration, McSween served as head of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences for a total of 12 years, as associate dean for research in the College of Arts and Sciences for two years, and most recently as interim dean in 2003 and 2004, immediately preceding Bursten’s appointment.

“ ‘Once more, into the breach!’ Thirty-three years in the College of Arts and Sciences engenders a lot of loyalty, and I’m pleased to help where I can. I’d like to assist in addressing the considerable challenges we face over the next few months and in making the transition to a new dean as smooth as it can be,” says McSween. To this end, he began this week attending regular meetings of Dean Bursten’s administrative team to become familiar with the business of the college.

Provost Susan Martin endorsed the appointment and expressed confidence in McSween’s ability to serve in a multitude of capacities.

“Dr. McSween has served the university in many roles. His name was often mentioned in my conversations with members of the faculty and staff and administrators in the college as I considered this interim appointment. He served the college admirably as interim dean before Bruce Bursten’s appointment, and I am most grateful that he was willing to help us again,” she says.

Martin explains that McSween’s first task will be to finalize planning for managing the college’s budget after July 1, 2011, when the stimulus funding, awarded to the university in 2009 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, runs out. He also will work with the college administrative team on strategic planning initiatives.

McSween is well known for his research of meteorites and Mars, as well as his work with NASA, which has funded his research for the past three decades. He is currently a co-investigator for the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which is mapping the mineralogy and chemistry of the Martian surface from orbit. He also is a co-investigator for the Mars Exploration Rovers, which are operating on the Martian surface, and the Dawn spacecraft, which will orbit two asteroids, 4 Vesta and 1 Ceres. And he even has an asteroid named after him: 5223 McSween.

With his science background, McSween is able to lend his expertise to the continuing development of the university’s new College for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, a joint project of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The center’s energy science and engineering doctoral program is a collaboration of the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

“I think we have a lot of expertise in the college that we could draw on in working on ORNL-related initiatives. It is, of course, a plus that as a scientist Dr. McSween can help lead the college effort in this area,” Martin says. “We are fortunate to have someone with Hap’s exemplary record as a faculty member and academic leader. We appreciate his commitment to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and his willingness to step into this position at a critical time for the college and the university,” she concludes.

A search for a permanent dean is already underway. Bob Rider, dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, will chair the search committee, which comprises the following members of the UTK academic community.

Tenured CAS faculty members

  • Jeff Becker, head of the Department of Microbiology
  • Dorothy Habel, director of the School of Art
  • Heather Hirschfeld, Department of English
  • Asafa Jalata, Department of Sociology; interim director of the Africana Studies program
  • Vejas Liulevicius, Department of History
  • Cal McLean, head of the Department of Theatre
  • Hap McSween, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences; incoming interim dean
  • Deborah Welsh, Department of Psychology

Tenure-track CAS faculty member

  • David Brule, Department of Political Science

CAS lecturer

  • Kimberly Smith, Department of Mathematics

CAS student

  • Anne Buckle, College Scholars; president of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council

External faculty member

  • Toby Boulet, College of Engineering

—Meredith McGroarty