Architecture Dean Tanzer to step down

Tanzer will not seek second five-year term next spring


Kim Tanzer will not seek a second five-year term as Dean of the School of Architecture, the University announced Thursday. Tanzer plans to step down at the end of her term in June, but will remain the Edward E. Elson Professor of Architecture.

“I have worked hard to accomplish the things that I set out to accomplish here at U.Va.,” she said. “I’m happy to turn over what I think is a school in good shape to my successor.”

Tanzer’s decision to step down follows multiple other dean departures at the University. She will vacate her position next year along with Meredith Woo, dean of the Graduate and Undergraduate College of Arts & Sciences, who announced in October that she would go on a sabbatical. In August, Nancy Dunlap replaced Medical School Dean Steven DeKosky.

In her first four years as dean, Tanzer created the Center for Design and Health and the Community Design and Research Center, raised more than $30 million for the school during an economic recession and launched multiple new degree programs.

The School of Architecture has also risen in prestige since Tanzer came to the University in 2009. In 2012, DesignIntelligence, a bi-monthly report on instructive best practices and architecture trends, ranked the School’s Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture programs among the top three in the nation in their respective categories.

“The school that I inherited is quite different from the one that I will be stepping down from the leadership of,” she said.

Tanzer has focused on developing the school’s global presence by starting new abroad opportunities and reforming old ones. “We’ve tried to cluster our efforts in the Mediterranean basin where we have long standing programs,” she said. “We have developed an India program and refreshed our China program.”

Increasing diversity has also been one of Tanzer’s biggest priorities. More than a third of her faculty either retired or took new positions at other institutions in four years, and Tanzer focused on diversifying her staff while hiring replacements. In her final months as dean, Tanzer said she hopes to “deepen the diversity conversation in the School.”

Architecture Professor Shiqiao Li will head the committee that will search for Tanzer’s replacement.

“[Tanzer] has successfully put a series of critical components together – financially, administratively, intellectually and in terms of recruiting outstanding new faculty,” Li said.

In his search for a replacement, Li said he plans to prioritize the “collective aspirations of the School community, the strategic vision of the University, understanding of global challenges and opportunities, [and] accomplishments and experiences of the candidates.”

University spokesperson McGregor McCance said University administrators are confident they will find capable replacements for both Woo and Tanzer.

“Our goal is to attract the most qualified leadership and faculty from a global pool of candidates, and the best public and private institutions are competing for those same people,” he said. “Qualified candidates for dean positions at the University of Virginia will have significant experience in academia and in leadership roles.”

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