Nov. 18, 2009
Noted ornithologist and medieval philosopher named next West Campus house professor-deans
Professors André Dhondt and Scott MacDonald have accepted President David Skorton's offer to serve as the West Campus House System's new house professor-deans, starting in fall 2010.
Dhondt, the Edwin H. Morgens Professor of Ornithology, will move into Alice Cook House; MacDonald, Ph.D. '86, the Norma K. Regan Professor in Christian Studies, will take up residence in Hans Bethe House.
House professor-deans serve as the intellectual and cultural leaders in the five undergraduate residences and are responsible for creating vibrant living/learning communities. For example, house professor-deans often host informal weekly gatherings for students, faculty and visiting scholars and guests, said Ross Brann, current house professor-dean of Alice Cook House and West Campus House System Council co-chair. "Students have the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations and small-group exchanges with scholars, artists and people in various walks of public life. Bringing them together is central to a house professor-dean's work," he said.
Dhondt, who directs the Lab of Ornithology's bird populations unit, conducts research on how changes in natural habitat influence bird populations, from their social organization and reproduction to their survival rates and dispersal. He was recently elected to the Academy of Europe, an association of 2,000 leading scientist and scholars, and is one of only 80 foreign members. Dhondt will succeed Brann, the Milton R. Konvitz Professor of Judeo-Islamic Studies.
MacDonald specializes in medieval philosophy, philosophical theology and issues in moral psychology and the philosophy of action, especially those concerned with free will, moral responsibility and practical reasoning. He is writing a book on Augustine's "Confessions." MacDonald will succeed Porus Olpadwala, professor of city and regional planning, as the Dale R. Corson House Professor-Dean of Hans Bethe House.