Smith’s announcement comes amid the School’s $450 million capital campaign and several other major initiatives, including a planned move across the river into Allston, a dramatic increase in faculty, and the expansion of the popular introductory class Computer Science 50 to Yale.
While Lewis said it was too early to speculate on what his main initiatives might be, he noted some challenges he expects to face.
“We have big dreams for development in Allston, and it requires a lot of teamwork, developing a shared vision of what’s going to happen over there, and some very specific planning that is going on,” Lewis said. “There are significant challenges in finding the resources to make it all possible.”
According to Area Dean for Applied Physics Eric Mazur, Lewis’s interim deanship represents “a phenomenal opportunity to continue to move the school into the exciting direction it’s going.”
“He is somebody who has I think devoted his life to Harvard,” Mazur said. “He cares deeply about the institution.”
Executive Dean for Education and Research Fawwaz Habbal echoed Mazur’s statements, praising Lewis due to his past experience as dean of the College and his knowledge of SEAS.
“For him to be acting dean during the time that it takes to find a long-term dean is a fantastic choice,” Habbal said. “Harry knows the place.”
Habbal said that he anticipated that a large part of Lewis’ time as Dean would be spent focused on Allston due to the planned relocation of a large portion of the School there in 2019.
Smith will continue the search for a permanent SEAS dean along with a search advisory committee composed of 15 faculty members from the school.
—Check TheCrimson.com for updates.
—Staff writers Francesca Annicchiarico, Karl M. Aspelund, and John P. Finnegan contributed to the reporting of this story.