President Barbara R. Snyder and Provost Ben Vinson III announced today that Distinguished University Professor Sandra “Sandy” Russ has agreed to serve as the next interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Her appointment begins Sept. 1.

“Sandy brings tremendous experience and insight to this role, as well as a profound sense of commitment to the College and university,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “We are very grateful for her willingness to serve as we continue the search for a new permanent dean.”

Russ, also the Louis D. Beaumont University Professor, succeeds Florence Harkness Professor of Religion Tim Beal, who became interim dean Jan. 1. He will return to his role as chair of the Department of Religious Studies Sept. 1. Coincidentally, Russ served on a 1998-99 search committee for a faculty member in religion—the one that first brought Beal to the university.

“Sandy has been a wonderful mentor since I first came to Case Western Reserve two decades ago, and provided truly indispensable guidance during my time as interim dean,” Beal said. “She will be an outstanding interim leader for the College, and an essential resource for the next dean. I cannot thank her enough.”

This appointment marks the second time Russ has served as interim dean; she last filled the role for 13 months in the early 2000s. From 1995 through 2000, she chaired the Department of Psychology, and from 1987 to 1994, she served in the Office of the Provost, first as assistant provost and then associate provost. She also has an extensive record of faculty service at the College and university level, including two stints as Faculty Senate chair—one in the 1980s, and the other five years ago.

“The unique depth and breadth of knowledge that Sandy has gained through her extensive service to the university will be invaluable in this new interim role,” said Provost Ben Vinson III. “I have great confidence she will build on Tim’s impressive efforts, and continue to advance the College during this time.”

After joining Case Western Reserve in 1975, Russ has focused much of her research on children’s pretend play—specifically how it can affect such functions as creativity, coping and ability to understand emotions. She has authored or edited six books, and published dozens of articles in refereed academic journals. She also has been named a fellow in her academic division of the American Psychological Association, and four years ago received the its Rudolf Arnheim Award for Outstanding Achievement in Psychology and the Arts.

Finally, the search for the College’s next dean continues; those who would like to review the position description and/or submit nominations can visit the search page.