Wachtel appointed as Graduate dean

Amy Hamblin

The Office of the Provost on March 16 announced Andrew Wachtelas the new Graduate School dean. Wachtel will assume the positionSept. 1, replacing Richard Morimoto who has filled the role for sixyears.

As the chair of the Slavic Languages and Literatures department,Wachtel comes to the position with a different perspective, joiningwhat he considers a Northwestern administration dominated byscience people. His predecessor, Morimoto, chaired the Departmentof Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology before servingas dean and will resume teaching within the department.

“(Morimoto) did a good job, so I don’t have to make radicalchanges,” Wachtel said.

But Wachtel added that his first steps will be to concentrate onsome the weaker areas of Morimoto’s tenure, such as the socialsciences.

Wachtel said he won’t so much change what Morimoto implementedas emphasize new unexplored areas. To strengthen the socialsciences, he said he would like NU to host intercollegiateconferences, assembling post-doctoral students and professors todiscuss and share ideas. He modeled his idea after the weekendconferences the biological sciences frequently have at NU and otheruniversities nationwide.

Wachtel said holding such conferences would be innovative andcould set NU apart from other schools.

“It’s a good way to stand out without spending a lot of money,”he said. “There is not an unlimited amount of resources.”

He said he hopes such programs will raise NU’s profile in theacademic world.

“We probably have programs that deserve to be ranked in the top20 but they aren’t,” Wachtel said. “I want to look at why thatis.”

Wachtel added that he suspected NU’s graduate schools havelargely been overlooked because they are smaller than those athigher-ranked universities.

Although he said his initial suspicion is the school’s smallerenrollment, he plans on contemplating the issue further as hetransitions into the position.

A committee composed of both students and faculty began theinternal search during Fall Quarter. It narrowed the applicant pooland turned the results over to Bienen and Dumas for the finaldecision.

“We wanted someone who knew the university pretty well and whocould step in and take over from Dean Morimoto,”Bienen told TheDaily.

Wachtel said he is confident that his 12 years teaching at theuniversity and his work with the graduate school will provide himwith key information for his upcoming job.

“I have a chance to make a difference at this university andthat’s an exciting opportunity,” Wachtel said, adding that hehasn’t given too much thought to the details of the position due tohis responsibilities with the Slavic department.

His colleague, Slavic Prof. Irwin Weil, said he believes Wachtelwill build the Graduate School like he did the Slavicdepartment.

“He has done wonderful things for the university and in myopinion he’ll do wonderful things for the university,” Weil said.”He’s full of ideas.”