Dr. Daniel Weinstein never expected to be the dean of the Math and Natural Sciences department at Queens College after holding the chair of QC’s biology department for several years. But, when the department was in search of a dean, after the original selection was forced to drop out due to personal issues, Dr. Weinstein found himself stepping in days before the start of the Fall 2019 semester at the provost’s request.
When it came time to select a permanent dean, Dr. Weinstein was among a group of potential candidates in a search that began last December. His time as the interim aided his candidacy when the search for the official dean began once again. After his tenure officially began on July 1, the delight of his coworkers spoke volumes to the approval Dr. Weinstein had throughout the department.
“I was very pleased to hear he was appointed as Acting Dean last year and now, I am also quite pleased he will be the next Dean of Math and Natural Sciences,” wrote Professor Jeffrey Bird, the Chair of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, via email. “He is an accomplished scientist, teacher, and knows QC and CUNY very well.”
“He is absolutely the best possible candidate for the position,” wrote Professor Esther Muehlbauer of the Biology department, also via email. “(He) has already had a successful semester as Interim Dean – and did beautifully!”
A dean has a baseline list of responsibilities, from approving faculty hires to the improvement of the overall curriculum, but checking those goals off of his list has become a bit more difficult in the current climate. “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get our researchers back on campus and back into their labs,” Dr. Weinstein said over the phone. “If you’re an English professor, there’s no need for you to do your thinking [while physically being] on campus. But for so-called bench scientists or field workers, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, all of these fields they need to get back in.”
Nevertheless, Dr. Weinstein’s long-term pursuits remain in the same line of sight, even as a global pandemic throws his daily operations out of order. He wants to offer as much of what he calls “real research experience” to as many undergrads as possible. That is, a more authentic lab experience to better the progress of those pursuing a scientific career.
Nothing about the current state of the world, not to mention CUNY’s continuous budget issues, makes for an ideal entry point into any job, much less one with as much potential impact as a dean. Dr. Weinstein, however, has grown accustomed to unusual beginnings, effectively tackling them with a level of respect and understanding among those he works with and for in CUNY.
“His own communications keep faculty in the loop with Division updates,” wrote Professor Muehlbauer. “He is a good interpreter of information – and when there are changes or unknowns that are causing concern (as with the start of the Pandemic in Spring semester) – his communications provide straightforward information together with his own intelligent insights.”
“”To be effective in leading change, leaders must use good data and engage in critical dialogue,” said Daniel Yakubov, a Senior Biology and Biology Anthropology major who had Dr. Weinstein as a research advisor for three years. “I have no doubts that he will go above and beyond to care for students and faculty of those within the Division of Math and the Natural Sciences. Dr. Weinstein is, without any reservation, the man for the job.”