University of Rochester

Investiture Ceremony Celebrates New Dean of the College Faculty

October 23, 2006

A symposium on issues related to interdisciplinary initiatives and an inaugural ceremony will mark the investiture of noted neuroscientist Peter Lennie as the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering at the University of Rochester on Friday, Oct. 27.

The symposium, titled "When Does Interdisciplinary Work Strengthen the Disciplines?", will be held at 2 p.m. in the Hawkins Carlson Room in Rush Rhees Library. It precedes the investiture ceremony, which takes places at 4 p.m. in Strong Auditorium. The University community is invited to attend the events, which include a reception at 5 p.m. in the Great Hall of Rush Rhees Library. Registration can be done online at

Symposium panelists, representing the humanities, social sciences, sciences, and engineering divisions within the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, will bring their perspectives to discussion topics including how academic divisions approach and value interdisciplinary work, the role of deans in fostering these initiatives, and balancing interdepartmental with individual department-strengthening initiatives. Richard Foley, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at New York University, will moderate the panel composed of Mark Bocko, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Elissa Newport, chair of the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences and the George Eastman Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Linguistics; Lawrence Rothenberg, professor of political science; and A. Joan Saab, associate professor of art history and of visual and cultural studies.

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman will preside over the investiture ceremony, with G. Robert Witmer Jr., chairman of the University's Board of Trustees, delivering welcoming remarks. The University of Rochester Wind Symphony, conducted by William Tiberio of the Department of Music, will perform during the processional and recessional.

Lennie had served in both academic and administrative capacities at Rochester for 16 years before becoming Dean for Science at New York University in 1999. There, he was responsible for the development of programs and departments in the natural sciences as well as interdisciplinary initiatives with the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Education, and the Tisch School of the Arts. He was also a professor in the Department of Neural Sciences during his seven-year tenure.

Lennie first came to Rochester in 1982 as associate professor of psychology and visual science and was named professor of psychology and visual science two years later. He also served as Director of the Center for Visual Science and Dean of Academic Resources. In 1995, he became the first Chair of the newly formed Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

In his research, Lennie has explored how the brain's visual cortex processes information about the form and color of objects. With more than 80 publications, he has examined fundamental questions about the relationship between visual perception and its underlying physiology.

Lennie was elected a fellow of the Optical Society of America in 1992 and has received two Merit Awards from the National Eye Institute. He has served as the editor of several scientific journals and on boards of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health. He was a Harkness Fellow at Northwestern University and a research fellow at King's College in Cambridge.