John Cooper steps down as Arts & Sciences dean

Arts & Sciences Dean John Cooper will return to the Department of Chemistry in the fall of 2017. Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh News Services

The second Pitt dean in two weeks has announced his return to teaching.

John Cooper, dean of the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, will step down and resume his former faculty role in the Department of Chemistry in fall 2017 after holding the dean position for 18 years.

“It has been a privilege to help our remarkable faculty and students achieve their ambitious goals over the past 18 years,” Cooper said in a release. “But it is time to turn to some of my other scholarly interests.”

Since becoming dean in 1998, Cooper has recruited more than 70 percent of the School of Arts and Sciences’ current faculty, with the hiring of minority faculty members increasing by 30 percent and the representation of women on Pitt’s faculty increasing by almost 50 percent. Pitt has conducted $1 billion of funded research while Cooper served as dean.

Provost Patricia Beeson said it was an “honor” to work with Cooper in his role as dean.

“John is an exceptional dean who has led the [School of] Arts and Sciences through a period of unparalleled progress,” Beeson said in a release. “He brought to the position an extraordinary breadth of knowledge, an ability to recognize talent and a commitment to the liberal arts that helped shape a remarkable faculty and the education of tens of thousands of students across the University.”

Cooper’s announcement comes one week after University Honors College Dean Edward Stricker announced on June 16 that he will be stepping down. Stricker said he is stepping down as dean to focus on other endeavors at Pitt.

“I look forward to returning to the Department of Neuroscience, where I will continue to teach and generally help students reach their fullest potential and thereby advance the mission of the University of Pittsburgh,” Stricker said.

Pitt spokesperson Joe Miksch said the two step-downs were not related, and the decisions were made by the respective deans.

“Both deans independently decided to step down for their own personal reasons,” Beeson said in a statement. “Leadership transitions are a normal part of any large-scale institution like the University of Pittsburgh, and faculty and staff are dedicated to supporting the University community through these transition periods.”

Committees to search for replacement deans will form this fall.

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