Rashid Zia ’01 named Dean of the College

When Rashid Zia ‘01 graduated from the University with degrees in both English and engineering, he could not have known that he would one day become Dean of the College. But as students return to campus for the fall semester, they will find the engineering professor and former assistant provost at the helm of Brown’s undergraduate program.

Zia succeeds former Dean of the College Maud Mandel, who will depart the University to become the next president of Williams College.

“I very much believe that we can always do more to support our students. … That’s why I was excited about this position. To have an opportunity to connect with more students,” Zia said.

Zia will become Dean of the College in time for a landmark year for the University — the 50th anniversary of its open curriculum, which was crafted by students and “transformed our institution,” Zia said. “I can think of no better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary than to engage our students today in an examination of how we might help improve the college and our curriculum,” he added.

Zia hopes the anniversary will allow him to establish a system through which students can evaluate and question the curriculum and its structure. While he is not sure what shape that system will take, he aims to work with the staff in the Dean of the College office to learn which measures have worked in the past, he said.

Provost Richard Locke P’18 praised Zia’s dedication, values and intelligence. “He’s really interested in trying to make sure that the undergraduates are really engaging and thinking about the curriculum,” he said.

Locke chaired the selection committee for Mandel’s replacement after she announced she would be leaving the University.

Locke and President Christina Paxson P’19 decided “it would be best to have an internal candidate” because they would understand Brown’s values and open curriculum, Locke said.

The selection committee, made up of administrators, faculty members, staff members and students, sent out a call for nominations for the position. The committee then worked with Mandel, senior staff in the office of the Dean of the College and the Dean of the College advisory council to create a set of criteria for the new dean.

The committee interviewed six semifinalists and chose three finalists. The finalists went through another round of interviews with the selection committee, met with Paxson individually and spoke with different stakeholder groups, including students, Locke said. Finally, the selection committee sent a memo outlining the pros and cons of each candidate to Paxson, who chose Zia as dean.

Zia had received multiple nominations from both students and faculty. “We thought ‘wow, this guy is going to be terrific,’” Locke said.

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