College of Dental Medicine Dean Ira Lamster will step down at the end of the academic year, University President Lee Bollinger announced on Thursday. Lamster has served as dean since 2001.
“The College of Dental Medicine has proven to be a dynamic institution under Ira’s leadership, with new educational programs, clinical initiatives and research opportunities,” Bollinger said in an email announcing Lamster’s decision to resign. “We are grateful for Ira’s outstanding service as dean since 2001 and as a member of the Columbia faculty since 1988.”
Bollinger did not say why Lamster is stepping down, although he said that it was Lamster’s decision. Lamster told Spectator that “it’s time for me to explore some other possibilities, some other options.”
“I jumped into the deep end and really have been very, very focused on what’s best for the school,” Lamster said. “After 10 years, it’s time for some new ideas and a new person to lead.”
Lamster said that the college is in great shape.
“It’s hard to compare this school with any dental project in the country,” he said. “It’s a robust and vibrant institution.”
According to Bollinger’s email, during his tenure as dean, Lamster expanded joint degree programs with the Mailman School of Public Health, the Business School, and Teachers College; developed the dental college’s continuing education and international programs; and worked to relate oral health to general health.
Richard M. Lichtenthal, chairman of the college’s Section of Adult Dentistry, said that Lamster’s reworking of the pre-clinical curriculum was perhaps his most important accomplishment.
“Dr. Lamster is much beloved and everybody is sorry to see him go,” Lichtenthal said. “He’s managed, over the last 10 years, to move the school forward tremendously—despite of many hardships that we have had.”
Other colleagues expressed high praise for Lamster as well.
“There isn’t an individual in this school or on the faculty who doesn’t feel totally loyal to the dean,” said Louis Mandel, associate dean for Extramural Hospital Programs and a 60-year verteran of the college who has worked under eight different deans. “My relationship with the dean has always been extremely positive. He’s been outstanding in his relations with the faculty, the students, the alumni, and with the community.”
“He’s a gentleman,” Mandel added. “That’s the highest praise I can give anyone.”
“Personally, I’m going to miss working with him,” Director of Development Geraldine Connors said. “But I’m going to continue to do a really good job after he’s gone in his honor.”
Lamster said that he plans to work at the New York Academy of Medicine and with Dean Linda Fried at the Mailman School.
In his email, Bollinger said that an interim dean will be appointed in the fall and that administrators will soon form a search committee to find a permanent replacement.