Campus & Community

Drew Gilpin Faust Named Dean of Radcliffe Institute For Advanced Study at Harvard University

6 min read
(Left to right) Drew Gilpin Faust, incoming Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Mary Maples Dunn, outgoing acting dean, and President Neil L. Rudenstine, answer reporter's questions in Harvard Yard on April 2. Photo by Marc Halevi

President Neil L. Rudenstine announced today (Monday, 4/3) that noted historian Drew Gilpin Faust has been named the first Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. The Institute was created upon the merger of Radcliffe with Harvard on October 1, 1999. Faust will succeed Mary Maples Dunn, former President of Smith College and Director of the Schlesinger Library, who has served as Acting Dean since the merger. Faust will also hold a tenured appointment as Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, and a recipient of the prestigious Francis Parkman Prize, Faust is a leading historian of the Civil War and the American South. She has served since 1996 as the Director of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She also serves on the executive boards of the Organization of American Historians and the Society of American Historians, and is President of the Southern Historical Association.

“Drew Faust is a person and a scholar of unusual depth and range,” Rudenstine said. “As an historian of the first rank, she will bring to the Radcliffe deanship a lifelong commitment to original research and an instinctive understanding of the fundamental purposes of the Radcliffe Institute. This perspective is crucial to the success of an institute for advanced study that aspires to the highest level of academic quality across a wide range of disciplines and fields, including significant work in the field of women, gender, and society.

“Faust has the clarity of mind, the commitment, and the leadership qualities essential to the successful launching of this new venture – particularly within an institution as complex as Harvard,” Rudenstine added. “With the establishment of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, we are embarked on an undertaking that will build on the history of Radcliffe and enrich the intellectual life of Harvard University for years to come. I am personally very pleased to be able to welcome Drew Faust to Radcliffe and the larger Harvard community and to say how fortunate we are that she is willing to lead this important new venture.”

Noted historian Drew Gilpin Faust, who was named the first Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, answers questions at an April 2 press conference at the Loeb House. Photo by Marc Halevi

In accepting the appointment, Faust said: “I am deeply honored to have been chosen for what seems to me the most exciting job in higher education. The Institute will build upon Radcliffe’s twin traditions of academic excellence and commitment to women, uniting them with Harvard’s scholarly eminence in a way that will encourage and support outstanding work in every field of intellectual endeavor. The opportunity for intersections across disciplinary boundaries will make the Institute an environment from which not just new knowledge, but new ways of looking at knowledge, will emerge. I am delighted by the prospect of playing a role in shaping this undertaking.”

Rudenstine was aided in the search by a faculty advisory committee, whose twenty members were drawn from a wide range of disciplines within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and from each of Harvard’s other Faculties. In addition, Rudenstine consulted throughout the search process with a special committee, established by the terms of the merger, consisting of representatives both of the former Radcliffe Board of Trustees and of Harvard’s governing boards. “Both groups played an invaluable role in the search process,” said Rudenstine, “and the enthusiasm for Drew Faust’s appointment is broadly shared.” Nancy-Beth Gordon Sheerr, who chaired the Radcliffe Board and served as a member of the special committee, confirmed this view: “Drew Faust is a superb choice. Her combination of personal qualities and academic distinction will serve Radcliffe well in the shaping of its new mission as an Institute for Advanced Study.”

Rudenstine expressed a “huge debt of gratitude to Mary Dunn for her skillful leadership of the Institute during this critical transition period.” According to Rudenstine, “She has worked tirelessly to set in motion critical first steps in planning for the new Institute, and to solidify the base of understanding and support among alumnae and friends.” Commenting on Faust’s appointment, Dunn said: “This is a brilliant appointment. I could not be more pleased. Drew will be an outstanding dean of the Radcliffe Institute.”

The mission of the Radcliffe Institute is to create an academic community where individuals can pursue advanced work in any of the academic disciplines, professions, or creative arts. As a significant part of that mission, the Institute sustains a strong commitment to the study of women, gender, and society. The Radcliffe Institute is one of a very few large-scale institutes for advanced study in the country. Each year it welcomes more than fifty fellows and visiting scholars and hosts a wide array of colloquia, lectures, and other academic events. Later this month, on April 28, the Radcliffe Institute will host an inaugural lecture by Kathleen Sullivan, Dean of the Stanford Law School, on “The Constitution in the 21st Century.”

Faust is the author of five books, including the award-winning Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, published in 1997. She is currently working on a study of the impact of the Civil War’s enormous death toll on the lives of nineteenth-century Americans.

Faust has spent her academic career at the University of Pennsylvania, rising through the professorial ranks since receiving her Ph.D. there in 1975. She has held the Annenberg Chair in American History since 1989. Besides directing the Women’s Studies Program, Faust has served in an array of administrative and leadership roles at Penn, including the Academic Planning and Budget Committee, the Presidential Search Committee, and the Committee for Inauguration of Judith Rodin, which she chaired. Faust is a trustee of Bryn Mawr College and the National Council for History Education, and serves on the educational advisory board of the Guggenheim Foundation. >From 1992 to 1996, she was Vice President of the American Historical Association. Faust has served on numerous editorial boards and selection committees, including the Pulitzer Prize jury in 1986 and 1990. She chaired the Parkman Prize jury in 1998.

Faust’s numerous honors include awards in 1982 and 1996 for distinguished teaching at Penn. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994 and to the Society of American Historians in 1993. Later this month, Faust will deliver the Littlefield Lectures at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her B.A. in 1968 from Bryn Mawr, magna cum laude with honors in History, and received her M.A. (1971) and Ph.D. (1975) in American Civilization from Penn.

Faust is married to Charles S. Rosenberg, the Bers Professor of the History and Sociology of Science at Penn. Author of over sixty books and articles on the history of illness and health care, Rosenberg is one of the nation’s leading historians of medicine. Faust and Rosenberg have two daughters.