Sunday, May 30, 2010

Acting NSF Director -- Congratulations to Dr. Cora Marrett!

---------- Update - June 7, 2010 - Professor Subra Suresh, dean of engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as the next director of the National Science Foundation. We congratulate him on his nomination. --------------------------------------

Dr. Arden Bement is stepping down as Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) six months short of serving his full term. He will be returning to Purdue University to head a new public policy institute according to the article in the ScienceInsider.

Interestingly, according to a press release issued by the University of Wisconsin on May 28 (but I could find no press release yet from NSF), Dr. Cora Marrett has been named the Acting Director of NSF and will very shortly assume her new duties.

According to the University of Wisconsin press release, Dr. Marrett's appointment was announced last Friday (May 28, 2010), interestingly, in a memo distributed to all NSF employees. Dr. Marrett, who has a long history as a top administrator with NSF, has been serving as acting deputy director of NSF since January of 2009.

In the memo, Arden L. Bement Jr., the departing director of NSF, said the appointment was made after consultation with the White House about the status of the search for a new director for the agency.

Dr. Cora Marrett is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin Madison but she also served as the Provost at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the mid to late 1990s. She was an outstanding Provost and, from, time to time, we still exchange communications. I have a collection of personal notes that she wrote to me as Provost, always recognizing and marking some achievement of the faculty. Her integrity, kindness, and intellect made her a favorite of the research faculty and she was much admired and very well-liked.

Above I posted a photo of a dinner following my Distinguished Faculty Lecture at UMass Amherst - "Networks for Fun and Profits," that I delivered in April 2000. After the lecture, I received the Chancellor's Medal. At the dinner, joining me (seated in the shadows in the back) were: Dr. Cora Marrett, who was seated next to my husband in glasses, Dean Tom O'Brien (our long-serving former Isenberg School of Management Dean) and his wife, Gena, who passed away last year, Dr. Val Haensel, the National Medal of Science winner and chemical engineering pioneer (who has since passed on) and his lovely wife, Herta, my former chairman, Dr. Nelson Lacey (with moustache), and my dear friend, Dr. Kei May Lau, who is now a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

I wish Dr. Marrett all the very best in her new leadership role and congratulate her as our new Director of the National Science Foundation!