The Collegian
Wednesday, July 28, 2021

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Patrice Rankine stepping down as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences

<p>&nbsp;The entrance to the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences's office at Boatwright Memorial Library.</p>

 The entrance to the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences's office at Boatwright Memorial Library.

Editors note: This article was updated to add information about Arts and Science NEXT, which was not created, but further developed, by Rankine.

Patrice Rankine will step down as the University of Richmond's dean of the School of Arts and Sciences on July 1, according to a June 3 email sent to the UR community by Jeffrey Legro, executive vice president and provost. 

After five years at UR, Rankine will assume the position of tenured professor in the Department of Classics in the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago.

"During his tenure as dean, Dr. Rankine made a priority of building a thriving and inclusive community; prioritizing stewardship in a changing world; and supporting academic excellence, collaboration, and faculty recruitment and development," Legro wrote in the email

Daniel Palazzolo, professor of political science, will serve as the interim dean while UR searches for someone to fill the role, according to the email. 

Rankine wrote in a June 3 email to The Collegian that interim appointments in a situation such as this were common because it could take a year to launch a search and secure an international pool of candidates.

"The decision came late because [The University of Chicago is] on the quarter system, making timing and coordination very challenging," Rankine wrote. "Their quarter just ended."

Legro cited many of Rankine's accomplishments at UR in the email to the community, including the establishment of the Health Studies department and the Africana Studies program.

Reflecting on his time at UR, Rankine said he was most proud of hiring faculty and staff that were reflective of the diversity of the student body. 

"Diversity, equity and inclusion were real pillars of our administration," he said. "When you look at my current dean's office, we've got a majority of minorities on the staff in the office -- that includes everyone from the associate deans to our budget manager. We really wanted to reflect the student body."

Rankine will miss the students at UR and the programming he was involved in during his time at UR, like career program Arts and Sciences NEXT, he said. 

"You get admitted into the business school, you get admitted into leadership, but we don't have that kind of energy in Arts and Sciences, so it's really fun to think with students about how to make that more of a destination," he said. "It's a unique configuration of schools and disciplines at UR, so that opportunity is not one that will be repeated anywhere else."

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UR contacted Palazzolo about assuming the interim role at the end of May, he wrote in an email to The Collegian on June 8. 

"Thankfully, Dean Rankine has provided great leadership and put together a terrific team of associate deans and staff — I am grateful for each of them," he wrote. "The School of Arts and Sciences also has strong governing institutions and guidelines and a dedicated faculty. I have worked cooperatively and constructively with numerous faculty, including department chairs and coordinators, over the years and I hope that will continue."

Palazzolo was scheduled to start a sabbatical leave on July 1. He will be putting his research plans and scholarly goals on hold to assume the position, but he wrote that he was looking forward to the challenges ahead.

"Our plans for this year should be to continue to support the efforts by faculty and staff to deliver the best possible learning experiences for our students; to implement several initiatives (in academic programs, administrative support, faculty hiring, and diversity, equity, and inclusivity) that are already underway; and to do whatever is necessary to prepare the next dean for a smooth transition in 2022," Palazzolo wrote. 

UR's plans to search for a new dean are in development and will be announced later this summer, Legro wrote in his June 3 email. 

Contact managing editor Meredith Moran at meredith.moran@richmond.edu.

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