Transitions: H&S Dean Howard Erlich Retires

Retirement marks the end of two decades of leadership. By Liz Getman '09

Howard Erlich has closed the chapter on his 20 years as dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, but his life in academia continues. He will spend this year on sabbatical while completing his term as chair of the American Conference of Academic Deans. He is also considering rejoining the faculty.

“Do I want to return to the classroom? Do I want to do some professional writing?” Erlich muses. “I’m looking at all the options.”

Erlich arrived at Ithaca College in 1973 and taught in the Department of Speech Communication for 15 years, achieving tenure in 1979. He served as assistant dean of H&S from 1982 to 1986 and associate dean for the next two years before being named dean in 1988.

“A dean is judged by the good work done under his leadership,” says associate provost David Garcia, who served as H&S associate dean from 2003 to 2006. “During Dean Erlich’s time the school has developed very successful programs.” Among them are the Honors Program — model for a recently instituted College-wide program — and the Ithaca Seminars program for first year students. The school’s enrollment has grown 20 percent, and the number of faculty has expanded by about 50. Art history, environmental science, environmental studies, teacher education, and writing have been added as majors, and new minors include Latin American studies and Jewish studies.

Erlich also served as chair of the Core Experience Task Force and directed the Hewlett Foundation grant supporting student-faculty collaborations.

“Howard is bright, thoughtful, and committed to Ithaca College,” says Peggy R. Williams, who also retired this summer. “H&S has grown not only in enrollment and academic program diversity, but also in stature under his leadership.”

Erlich feels he is leaving at a good time for H&S. “The school has never been better,” he says. “I’ve been spoiled because I’ve worked with people who are really committed to elevating its quality. I’ve loved my job. This is the best purpose: to try to help students advance their own intellect.”

Erlich was succeeded by Leslie W. Lewis, a teacher-scholar of American literature who was most recently interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York.