July 29, 2011
Dear Search Committee:
I am truly humbled to be nominated to be a candidate for Vice Chancellor of the University of Hawaii
Hilo. The position is certainly exciting to contemplate and I am delighted to formally submit my
application for your consideration.
I have completed 33 years as a faculty member at The Ohio State University and have served the
institution in many capacities and on countless committees. I have won awards for teaching and
research. I maintain a small but productive, federally funded research laboratory and continue to
publish and patent my work. I have been the chair of the Department of Chemistry, a problem solving
resource for presidents and provosts, a vice-provost and the interim dean of two colleges. In the next
few paragraphs I will take the liberty of explaining my past roles and responsibilities.
In 1994 an external search for the chair of the Chemistry Department failed and I was asked to serve as
interim chair. The department was reeling at that time due to the loss of numerous recession related
retirements and resignations, and I felt an obligation to serve. In 5 years as interim chair and chair, I
successfully recruited 15 new faculty members to chemistry and doubled the (small) number of women
faculty in chemistry. I am proud that many of the current leaders of the Department of Chemistry were
hired and nurtured on my watch. I also managed the opening of a new chemistry building and the
evacuation and renovation of a second. It was my fate to handle some very tough and public personnel
matters as a department chair.
I stepped down as chair in 1999 to reinvigorate my research program and return to the classroom. After
serving as a visiting professor at Caltech, I learned that I had been elected to be one of a handful of Ohio
State University Distinguished University Professors. As a DUP I served on the President’s and Provosts
Advisory Committee and have handled special projects as assigned. In 2002/3, The Ohio State University
football team won the national championship and as a result received a great deal of scrutiny. A series
of shocking allegations of academic misconduct were reported in the national media in July 2003.
President Karen Holbrook asked me to chair a faculty committee to thoroughly examine these
allegations and the entire student athlete support structure. Although FERPA prevents my saying much
about the case, I am very proud of the work of that committee and of my institution. I certainly learned
much about big time college athletics and the national sports media as a result. (As a youth I dreamed of
making it into the sports pages, just not that way!).
I served in the Office of Academic Affairs for three years under Provost Barbara R. Snyder and later
Joseph Alutto. My portfolio included promotion and tenure and I read ~150 dossiers/year paying special
attention to the negative and borderline cases. I handled faculty awards, policies and personnel issues
for the provost and represented the provost on the university CAT team (Crisis Assessment team). This
group dealt with the most serious personnel and public safety issues on campus.
As vice provost I helped develop new rules on exclusion of years from the probationary period to make
our P&T process more family friendly and guided the rules change through the University Senate. I also
developed the university’s academic response to a possible avian flu pandemic, a plan revisited during a
recent swine flu outbreak. I shepherded reform of the university’s policy on paid faculty leave through
the university senate, to make it more inviting to researchers. I over saw development of a faculty-
student romantic relations policy and created a policy to better handle interdisciplinary promotion and
tenure cases for faculty with joint appointments.
I was serving as Vice Provost and Interim Director of the nascent OSU Institute of Energy and the
Environment when there was a fiscal and accounting melt down in the College of Mathematical and
Physical Sciences (MAPS), whereupon I took over as interim dean. I am proud of the fact that my team
produced and implemented a strategic plan that allowed us to retire the debt without compromising
academic quality or values. A year later The Ohio State University began a large reorganization of its Arts
and Sciences and I was appointed interim dean of the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) as well as
MAPS. I then led a “division” of science that was home to roughly 300 faculty, 500 staff and over 500
graduate students in twelve departments and one school with an operating budget of almost $100
million/year. I had financial oversight of the OSU share of the LBT (Large Binocular Telescope) project,
the goal of which is nothing less than construction of the largest optical telescope in the world! I was
lead dean of the 4 interdisciplinary life science graduate programs and of 4 high-profile, Targeted
Investment in Excellence (TIE) university initiatives. In my last year as science dean I am proud to say
that we hired new faculty at gender parity. Finally, on my watch, I laid the groundwork for the mergers
of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Plant, Cellular and Molecular Biology and Molecular Genetics, and
Entomology and Organismal Biology.
Among my challenges as the “science dean” was to reduce the loss of K-16 students from the STEM
pipeline, promote and value both diversity and academic excellence in everything we did, facilitated and
catalyzed garnering external funding, broke down silo’s and promoted interdisciplinary research, and
encouraged international experiences to prepare our students to compete and thrive in a flat world.
I went on leave from the Ohio State University on September 27, 2010 to become Director of the
Division of Chemistry at the National Science Foundation. The world faces numerous, interconnected
problems of sustainable food security, fresh water, energy and industry. Part of the solution to every
one of these problems will require the discovery of fundamental new chemistry. I was attracted to the
NSF to position the nation to discover that chemistry. At the NSF I oversee an annual budget of ~$250M
and run an office of about 25 scientists and administrative staff. Together we handle approximately
1800 proposals/year. My time is spent recruiting and supervising staff, making the tough funding
decisions, responding to ever changing budget scenarios and communicating emerging opportunities
and policy changes to the community. I remain a tenured faculty member at The Ohio State University
while serving at NSF. My maximum tenure at the NSF is 4 years and I am an “at will” employee.
Why Hilo, Why Now?
For much the last ten years I have held a series of short-term administrative positions in the academy. I
have served where Presidents and Provosts felt I could most contribute to Ohio State. At the NSF I am a
rotator. I have learned much in these jobs and enjoyed them greatly. But now, as I pass my sixtieth
birthday, I realize that I have ten years of career left and I want to commit to a challenging leadership
position, one where I can finish what I start and make a difference in an institution of higher education
and in the lives of its students, faculty and staff. For a number of reasons I find the mission and
opportunities at Hawaii-Hilo to be compelling.
All four of my grandparents were born in Europe and came to the US as small children. My parents were
depression kids. My parents, sister and I grew up in a one bedroom apartment in the south Bronx. When
I was a little boy, my father decided to attend night school at City College. I have had a wonderful life
because my dad was a first generation college graduate. I know first hand the power of education to
alter the destiny of a family. Thus, I resonate at a deep level with Hilo’s mission to encourage students,
particularly, first generation students, “to reach their highest level of educational attainment”. It is a
noble mission that I support with great enthusiasm.
As a former dean, I learned that the late twentieth century higher public education paradigm is simply
not sustainable. We must evolve. We must find new ways to deliver instruction, add value to the
community, and promote partnerships all while preserving our core academic values. At the NSF I am
passionately promoting funding the basic science we must discover to create sustainable food, water,
and energy to meet the needs of the world’s ever expanding population. The island of Hawaii is the
perfect place for the next Steve Jobs to show us how to live both well and sustainably. Because Hilo is
THE institution of higher education on the island of Hawaii, because it is part of a close knit, state-wide
system, because the island is a unique natural wonder, and because the institution is a source of pride
and hope for the culturally rich and diverse, local community, I believe that Hawaii-Hilo can be an
exemplar of twenty first century higher education. I very much hope to be a part of that future.
My CV is attached for your analysis. Thank you for serving on this demanding and important search
committee and for taking the time to examine my credentials.