After more than 12 years and an extraordinary road traveled with colleagues and friends, the time has come for me to step down as dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School and vice president, Innovation, at RAND. I will be leaving the school and RAND at the end of the summer to return to the Washington, D.C., area and begin a new phase in my career, one focused on more direct action toward improving lives and providing opportunities for people in our communities.
This next phase picks back up the direction I was pursuing when Jim Thomson offered me the honor of becoming dean of Pardee RAND in 2008. And it is a thread I’ve continued throughout my time as dean while working on my book I Am Not A Tractor! and establishing the school’s new Community-Partnered Policy and Action stream.
Ten years ago, during my first experience with re-accreditation, the committee members paused after only a few questions, apparently with nothing more to ask. The chair of the review panel broke the silence, saying, “The truth is, we all agreed before you joined the meeting that you have the best dean’s job in the country!” How right she was.
My decision has not come easily or quickly, and it is decision that I make with the mixed emotions of leaving colleagues, students, and an organization that I respect immensely and love fully. Now is, however, the right time. The Pardee RAND Graduate School is an extraordinary institution and is in a strong position to welcome the next dean.
- With our 2020 student cohort, all major elements of the redesigned school are in place, building on and expanding the exceptional education and experience Pardee RAND has long offered our students. The new program was re-accredited last week for the maximum possible 10-year term.
- The Tech and Narrative Lab, the energy and collaboration of the Methods Centers, and the strategic use of RAND-Initiated Research allow RAND and the graduate school continue to innovate to strengthen and expand the work we can do for our sponsors and the public.
- Thanks to the exceptional generosity of Frederick S. Pardee, the school is establishing our first student housing community.
- The school continues to push forward on strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion within our community and in communities throughout the U.S. through a holistic admissions process, the Faculty Leaders Program, a new Social Justice and Racial Equity thread within our program, and the Community-Partnered Policy and Action academic stream and community partnerships.
- Student support has become increasingly comprehensive — in such areas as Career Services, the near-elimination of student debt upon graduation, increased scholarship, parental leave, and now student housing — while also maintaining the personal and individual care that our school administration has for our students.
- Most of all, we have a strong team of talented deans, stream leads, faculty, advisors, counselors, and administrative staff. The school, students, and the next dean could not be in better hands.
All of the above has been accomplished by a deeply caring and committed Pardee RAND staff and faculty, the Innovation Team, support from across RAND beginning at the top and continuing into nearly every division and department — and you, of course, our amazing alumni.
As I told Michael Rich when we first spoke about my decision, the changes at Pardee RAND would not have been possible without our partnership. I asked to continue that partnership with Michael in preparing the school for the best possible transition to the next dean. We have tapped your fellow alum, Jeffrey Wasserman, to lead the search for my successor. Michael is forming a diverse search committee, which will leverage best practices and an inclusive process to attract internal and external candidates.
I will not be leaving for about six months, and there is still much work to be done. My hope is that by the time I head East, the next dean will be fully in place and everyone will be looking at their watches saying, “Wait, is she still here?”
I am grateful for the opportunity that Jim Thomson and Michael Rich gave me nearly 13 years ago. And I am excited for the opportunity that awaits the next dean as they join the Pardee RAND community to take on the best dean’s job in the country.
Susan L. Marquis
Frank and Marcia Carlucci Dean, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Distinguished Chair of Policy Analysis
Vice President of Innovation, RAND Corporation