Michael Fitts, President Tulane University, speaks in New Orleans, La Monday, May 22, 2017. 

Advocate photo by A.J. SISCO

Three deans at Tulane University will resign from their posts at the end of the academic year and eventually return to teaching, a move Tulane President Michael Fitts said is part of the university’s ongoing push to reimagine itself and recruit new talent.

Stepping down are the deans of the schools of architecture, liberal arts, and public health and tropical medicine, which are now led by Kenneth Schwartz, Carole Haber and Pierre Buekens, respectively.

Tulane also is searching for a permanent dean for its School of Science and Engineering after longtime leader Nicholas Altiero gave up his post last year. That position is being filled temporarily by professor Michael Herman.

Fitts said the latest deans to step aside have reached the end of their contracts. Like Altiero, they will take a year-long sabbatical before returning to teach at Tulane.

“We are excited about recruiting ... deans who will have new ideas and new visions moving forward,” Fitts said. “We are as old as any institution around, yet we are constantly reinventing ourselves, both intellectually and in terms of new people. This is a part of that process.”

The departing deans did not return calls and emails requesting comment Monday. However, Schwartz said in a September blog posted on the architecture school’s website that he is “savoring the moments of this final year” of his deanship before he steps down to pursue research, creative work and teaching.

Tulane has hired the executive search firm Korn Ferry to find applicants for the open Public Health and Tropical Medicine School job and the firm Isaacson, Miller to handle the other searches. 

Prospective candidates must understand the need for significant fundraising for the architecture, liberal arts, and science and engineering schools, according to position profiles posted on the website of Isaacson, Miller.

Meanwhile, the new dean of the public health school must be a “recognized international scholar and leader” in the field, according to a job posting from Korn Ferry.

Schwartz and Haber have served for 10 years in their posts, while Buekens has held his post since 2003. Altiero was the longest-serving Tulane dean of the group, having been in a leadership role since 2000.

Fitts, who became university president in 2014, said the deans decided to leave because they wanted to “smell the roses” after having served for so long in their respective positions.

But he also described the exits as a way for Tulane to attract new leaders.

“In the case of every school, there have been huge initiatives that have helped define us nationally, and we look for the new deans to help us build on that going forward,” Fitts said.

Tulane enrolls close to 14,000 students and has 1,200 full-time faculty members. It has 10 academic divisions, with the architecture, liberal arts, science and engineering, and public health and tropical medicine schools comprising more than 7,000 students and employing more than 680 full- or part-time faculty members.

Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA​.