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The Maxine Singer Papers

Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Maxine Singer pdf (252,574 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Maxine Singer
Number of Image Pages:
4 (252,574 Bytes)
1989-11-28 (November 28, 1989)
Lederberg, Joshua
Singer, Maxine
Original Repository: Library of Congress. Maxine Singer Papers
Reproduced with permission of Joshua Lederberg.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Personnel Selection
Exhibit Category:
The Science Administrator as Advocate
Metadata Record Letter from Maxine Singer to Joshua Lederberg (December 12, 1989) pdf (78,394 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Box Number: 18
Folder Number: 24
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Correspondence, 1955-2004, n.d.
SubSeries: Alphabetical
Folder: Lederberg, Joshua, 1989
November 28, 1989
Dear Maxine:
While you are probably well-acquainted with work at Rockefeller and with many of our faculty, you may be less familiar with the details of how we organize our various activities. As you may know, we are organized by laboratories, not by departments. I have thought that the somewhat unusual organization of this university makes it more difficult for those in the broader academic community to know what searches are underway here and how these recruitment efforts are led. Even more likely you may not be aware of our efforts to recruit independent scientists as assistant professors through the University Fellows program. To clarify our recruitment and because, as a small institution, we always need the help of distinguished scientists beyond our university in identifying candidates, I am writing this letter to you and to others who currently hold positions which provide good vantage points to look out on the academic community.
Among the concerns we share with many in the scientific community, is the decline in the attractiveness of scientific academic careers to bright young people. One way to address this problem is for all of us to highlight the opportunities we have for bringing new scientists to our institutions.
At Rockefeller, we have numerous faculty recruitment efforts underway. Our efforts include recruitment of Ph.D. students, postdoctoral fellows, assistant professors, as well as the current searches for senior faculty.
Students here may study for a Ph.D. in the life sciences and physics. Every student at Rockefeller has a full fellowship. In consultation with an advisory committee, an individual course of study is designed, combining courses, seminars, tutorials and research experience. Since the beginning of the program at Rockefeller in 1955, the Ph.D. students in the life sciences are engaged in research teams throughout their study. Currently enrollment in our graduate program is 120 students with about 25 students matriculating each year. Under a special joint admissions process about 5 to 6 students a year enter the joint M.D./Ph.D. (MSTP) program the University has with Cornell University Medical College.
There has been broad recognition of the dearth of young minority scientists on faculties everywhere and of young minorities electing to study science. As with our many colleague research universities, we want to encourage more minorities to pursue research careers. We believe that our policy of full fellowships is an attractive aspect of our program for all potential applicants and removes an impediment of large loans which is often thought to be a particularly significant deterrent to potential minority applicants. In addition to the doctoral studies, undergraduates may do research in laboratories at Rockefeller University under the 10 week summer undergraduate Research Fellows program. Rockefeller faculty members Dean Anthony Cerami, Associate Deans Mary Rifkin and Bruce McEwen oversee the educational program. If you have suggestions for potential candidates or places where we should encourage applicants, I urge you to write Deans Cerami or Rifkin.
At Rockefeller the recruitment of postdoctoral fellows is undertaken by Laboratory Heads. Currently there are about 50 independent laboratories, with some 30 labs having large groups of postdoctoral fellows. Enclosed is a guide to laboratories at Rockefeller. Each Laboratory Head follows various methods of searching for postdoctoral fellows but I am sure they would be pleased to consider candidates you might wish to recommend.
Assistant professors and associate professors are also recruited by Laboratory Heads from outside the University, although almost all of those positions are filled by promoting the best postdoctoral fellows.
In addition to the recruitment by laboratories, the University has been recruiting assistant professors under a special program of University Fellows. Begun in the early 1970's this program seeks out exceptionally promising young investigators working in frontier areas and provides them with facilities and support for independent research. They may devote themselves exclusively to research. At this time we have eight University Fellows. We are currently searching for fellows in the broad areas of neuroscience, virology, and molecular and cell biology. The University Fellows Committee is co-chaired by Professors James Darnell and David Luck. Please write or call them if you have suggestions for their ongoing searches.
At Rockefeller, the recruitment and appointment of tenured faculty begins with search committees. Of course, I continually review the range of research at the University and discuss with the faculty's Academic Council and with individual faculty members what fields should be strengthened in the University through the creation of new laboratories. When resources allow, I authorize and appoint a faculty committee to identify the best scientists in a given field. From the recommendations made to me by those committees, we initiate recruitment. Currently, we have search committees for senior faculty in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Clinical Investigation (with emphasis on areas such as human genetics, immunology, and neuroscience), Theoretical Physics, and Neurobiology. Not influenced by departmental boundaries nor constrained by curricular requirements, the fields of study of appropriate candidates for any of these searches are extremely broad.
While I am enlisting your help to identify candidates appropriate for tenured appointment at Rockefeller University, I will mention another current concern. We are eager to insure that all searches include exceptional women scientists who would be ready to take senior faculty positions. I am strongly committed to assuring that all decisions at this University are firmly grounded in considerations of scientific excellence. At the same time I do think we should imaginatively diversify our ways of looking for candidates to identify more excellent candidates at all levels of appointment.
So when you think about outstanding scientists who would be candidates or about places and ways we should search for candidates, please help us think of suitable women candidates among the excellent researchers you know. Although, as mentioned above, we especially want to extend our efforts to encourage young minorities to choose to study science and to pursue research careers, we welcome suggestions of minority candidates for our faculty positions as well. The faculty who head the current searches are Anthony Cerami (Chemistry search), Attallah Kappas (Clinical Investigation search), E.D.G. Cohen (Physics search) and Donald Pfaff (Neurobiology search).
We all get letters such as this one from time to time. I thought it useful to clarify how we organize our recruitment. And I am seeking ways to strengthen our searches in general and in particular. I welcome any thoughts you have. As a convenient way of responding, I am enclosing a page for your suggestions for our senior searches. Of course I would also be glad to talk with you. The colleagues I mentioned in the particular sections will welcome your thoughts.
Joshua Lederberg
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