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Finalists announced for dean of Letters & Science

April 29, 2013 By Susannah Brooks

Three University of Wisconsin–Madison professors, along with a fourth candidate who taught at UW–Madison for 18 years, have been named finalists for the position of dean of the College of Letters & Science, UW–Madison’s largest academic unit.

The new dean will succeed Gary Sandefur, who has led Letters & Science since 2004. Sandefur plans to step down at the end of the 2012-13 academic year and spend the next year on research leave before returning to the faculty of the Department of Sociology.

More information about the candidates’ public visits, scholarly work and links for providing feedback is available online.

The finalists are:

Photo: John Coleman


John Coleman, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and a Lyons Family Faculty Fellow. Coleman received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001. He chaired the Curriculum Committee of the College of Letters & Science and previously directed his department’s graduate studies. He studies relationships between means of campaign finance regulation, civic engagement, and public policy content. A past president of the Political Organizations and Parties research section of the American Political Science Association, he has served as an expert witness and consultant on campaign finance cases.

Coleman has taught at UW–Madison since 1992. He received his doctorate from MIT and his bachelor’s degree from Clark University.

Photo: David McDonald


David McDonald, Alice D. Mortenson/Petrovich Professor of History. McDonald studies the political and intellectual history of imperial Russia. He chaired the search committee that selected Rebecca Blank as UW–Madison’s next chancellor. He also served as special assistant to the chancellor for athletics and chair of the Athletic Board. He has been active in faculty-alumni outreach through the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

McDonald has taught at UW–Madison since receiving his doctorate from Columbia University in 1988, chairing the Department of History from 2006-2010. He received master’s degrees from Columbia University and the University of Toronto, as well as a bachelor’s degree, also from the University of Toronto.

Photo: John Karl Scholz


John Karl Scholz, Nellie June Gray Professor of Economic Policy and chair of the Department of Economics. Scholz formerly directed UW–Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty. His studies include work on household saving, the earned income tax credit and low-wage labor markets, financial barriers to higher education and bankruptcy laws. He coedits the American Economic Journal — Economic Policy and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Previously, he served as deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department and senior staff economist at the Council of Economic Advisors.

Scholz has taught at UW–Madison since 1988. He received his doctorate from Stanford University and his bachelor’s degree from Carleton College.

Photo: Jane Tylus


Jane Tylus, professor of Italian Studies and comparative literature, faculty director of the Humanities Initiative, and former vice provost for academic affairs at New York University. Before moving to NYU, Tylus served as UW–Madison’s associate dean of the arts and humanities, chair of the Department of Comparative Literature and chair of the Divisional Committee for the Arts and Humanities. Tylus has primarily studied late medieval and early modern European literature, focusing extensively on Italian women writers.

Tylus taught at UW–Madison from 1985 until 2003. She received her doctorate from Johns Hopkins University and her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary.

The College of Letters & Science provides the liberal arts foundation for the university at all levels of study. It confers nearly half of all UW–Madison degrees, including 57 percent of undergraduate degrees in 2011-12, and teaches over 60 percent of all UW–Madison credit hours, including 84 percent of all freshman and sophomore credits.

The dean oversees more than 3,100 faculty and staff positions across 39 departments, 22 interdisciplinary programs, 70 research centers and institutes, and five professional schools. In 2011-12, the college received $105.1 million in federal research awards, second only to the School of Medicine and Public Health.

Jeff Hardin, professor and chair of zoology, chaired a 17-member search and screen committee that recommended the finalists to Provost Paul M. DeLuca Jr. and Interim Chancellor David Ward.