David Lightfoot, dean of the Georgetown Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, will resign on June 1 to assume a position at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va.

He will be responsible for the NSF’s directorate for social, behavioral and economic science and will oversee a $200 million research budget.

During his tenure at the NSF, Lightfoot will continue as a part-time linguistics professor at Georgetown, and plans to return to teaching full-time after his tenure is complete.

Lightfoot was named dean of the Graduate School in 2001 and has since overseen a comprehensive review of all of Georgetown’s graduate programs and advocated closer ties between the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Medical School.

He said that he will look back on his time as dean “with enormous affection.” Nevertheless, he said the position at the NSF offered him “a great opportunity to shape science policy at the national level, particularly in the areas of social, behavioral and economic sciences, which reshape our ideas of what it means to be a human being.”

Lightfoot said that his greatest accomplishment during his time as dean has been to offer better financial support to graduate students and thus attract better students by producing a stronger program.

The graduate school now offers stipends and health insurance to 5-year Ph.D. students. The level of financial support to the average graduate student has also increased from $11,000 per year to $17,000 per year, Lightfoot said.

“We are grateful for Dean Lightfoot’s service to Georgetown . This is an exciting opportunity for him,” university spokeswoman Julie Bataille said.

Provost James O’Donnell also had praise for Lightfoot.

“Under [David Lightfoot’s] leadership, our programs have shown growth in enrollment and intensification of academic quality and are poised to achieve at an even higher level in the future,” O’Donnell said in a press release.

O’Donnell will soon begin a search process for Lightfoot’s successor. Until one is named, Gerald Mara, professor of political philosophy, will serve as interim dean.

Mara said he was “appreciative of the Provost’s confidence,” and looks forward to assuming the position.

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