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Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014

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Assessment, planning under way in Graduate School

been a faculty member, director of graduate studies, department chair, University committee member, researcher and Ph.D. adviser. William Russel has a background that seems tailor-made for his latest challenge -- serving as dean of Princeton's Graduate School .

On Aug. 1, Russel succeeded John Wilson as dean of the school, which this year enrolls about 2,000 students. The Arthur W. Marks '19 Professor, he has been a member of the faculty in chemical engineering since 1974. In addition to serving his department as director of graduate studies and as chair, he has served the University as a member of the Committee on Appointments and Advancements, the University Research Board, the Committee on the Sixth College and search committees for key administrators.

He also has been active as a researcher and administrator with the Princeton Materials Institute, the Princeton Center for Complex Materials and the Princeton Environmental Institute. He has advised 30 Ph.D. students now in academia or industrial research.

Russel spoke with the Princeton Weekly Bulletin about his impressions of the Graduate School so far, and his plans for the future -- which include moving into Wyman House near the Graduate College with his wife, Priscilla, sometime next year.

Why did you decide to take on this job?

There's no single answer to that. I have enjoyed administrative positions over the years, along with the life of a professor. As I was considering the job, John Wilson offered a remarkably extensive and detailed sense of what the school does, what the issues are and what the future might hold. Through these I gained a much better appreciation of the depth and breadth of the job and began to realize that I could enjoy it. The numerous components that are important to faculty and students weighed heavily as well.

How have you been spending your time over the last several months?

Most has been devoted to acquainting myself with the Graduate School, the departmental programs and the graduate students. First I talked with all available members of the staff to hear what they do and think. To learn how the graduate programs in the various departments operate, I am visiting them one by one with [Associate Deans] Sandra [Mawhinney] and David [Redman]. That's been helpful in both directions -- we've learned much from them, and they've occasionally gained from our suggestions. Meeting with the Graduate Student Government and the House Committee of the Graduate College have been informative, and I expect to see more students during office hours this spring.

The full story is available in the Weekly Bulletin .

Contact: Ruth Stevens (609) 258-3601

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