New dean of Weinberg is announced

Marisa Maldonado

Daniel Linzer, associate dean of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of biochemistry, will become the school’s dean after Eric Sundquist leaves in July, administrators said Wednesday.

Linzer’s almost 20 years of experience with the school makes him an ideal choice to succeed Sundquist, said Kelly Mayo, chairwoman of the 11-member search committee.

“He has a very strong sense of the culture at the university, the direction it’s taking and the kind of leadership it currently needs,” said Mayo, a biology professor. “There’s naturally a learning curve when someone comes into a new environment – that won’t be the case here.”

Sundquist is leaving to teach English at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The committee, which included Weinberg professors and students, sent a final list of six candidates to University President Henry Bienen and Provost Lawrence Dumas in mid-December. The candidates, narrowed down from a preliminary list of about 150 people, included both in-house as well as outside names.

Sundquist said Linzer was the best candidate for the position.

“He’s done an excellent job as associate dean for Weinberg college and I’m sure he’ll be a superb dean as well,” Sundquist said. “He’s extremely warm, personable and an easy person to work with.”

Linzer joined Northwestern in 1984 after finishing post-doctoral work at Johns Hopkins University and earning a doctorate at Princeton University. He said he plans to spend the next five months learning about Weinberg’s various disciplines. When Linzer became associate dean in 1998, he worked extensively with faculty in science, math and social sciences, he said, adding that he still needs to learn about humanities departments.

Linzer said he hopes to learn from Weinberg students by soliciting input from a greater variety of students than the ones who traditionally express opinions through channels such as advisory committees. He proposed a “Meet the Dean” night at Norris University Center for students to talk with him informally about issues that concern them.

“The floor (would be) open,” he said. “The students could try to inform me about things. I’d like opportunities to meet with students as we think about, particularly, interdepartmental programs.”

Students who want to make a difference should look at the development of the Asian-American studies program as an example of how student activism can work, he said.

“When students feel they have an opportunity to make an impact, I would expect them to … make their voices heard,” he said. “I know I wasn’t bashful when I was a student.”

Cross-school initiatives also will continue receiving attention under his tenure, Linzer said. NU’s “multi-school” environment requires the six undergraduate schools to work together.

“Students in those schools are mixed together in different dorms, fraternity or sorority houses, and go to similar functions that bring all students together in an NU identity,” he said. “It’s incredibly important for students to have an NU experience that minimizes any hurdles or barriers that might exist and maximizes opportunities to do creative things.”