Franken’s black-belt in administrative Ju-jitsu

Peter Franken was a member of the Michigan physics faculty from 1956 until 1973 when he became the founding director of the Optical Sciences Center at the University of Arizona.  Prior to 2005, this unit was among the world leaders in optics research; moreover it had a strong teaching component.  But it did not have full authority to determine curricula and academic promotions.  For administrative reasons the OSC had been under repeated, increasing pressure from the provost to join one of the existing colleges such as the College of Science or College of Engineering, but the Optics people were not enthusiastic about that.

Now quoting from R.L. Shoemaker’s article in “Optics and Photonics News”, October 2005, pp 12-14:    “The last time the University asked  OSC to join another college, the provost told the Center’s director that OSC could join any existing college that they wished — but he ultimately regretted the wording of his request.   Franken, the Center’s director at the time, responded that the OSC would like to join the College of Medicine, with salaries adjusted to be commensurate with those of the well-paid faculty there.”      Franken’s response ended the attempts of the provost and, finally in 2004, the OSC became the College of Optical Sciences with the authority and profile of a self-standing academic college within the University of Arizona.

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