Margaret Bentley Sevcenko, editor of publications for the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, died of respiratory failure on Feb. 9 at the age of 71. In the words of Oleg Grabar, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art Emeritus, Sevcenko “joined the program at Harvard and M.I.T. in 1979, guided its first steps, and set it on its successful course.”
Sevcenko was a junior Phi Beta Kappa and graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley (1950); she received an M.A. in medieval history from The Johns Hopkins University in 1953.
Before coming to Harvard, she was research assistant for Ernst H. Kantorowicz at the Institute for Advanced Study (1955-56); administrative secretary for the National Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Program (1956-57); and secretary to the first chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Barnaby Keeney (1967-68).
Positions during her first decade in Cambridge included secretary of the Fine Arts Department (1968-74) and manuscripts editor of the journal Daedalus (1974-77). Sevcenko joined the Aga Khan Program in 1979 as publications editor, and was responsible for the journal Muqarnas and various other program publications. She was also an editorial consultant to the International Journal of Middle East Studies (1989 – 94). A much sought after editor of scholarly texts, Sevcenko took special pleasure in helping young scholars. Throughout her life, she enjoyed the respect and love of faculty, colleagues, and students.
She is survived by her former husband, Ihor Sevcenko; their daughter, Catherine; a brother, Wilder Bentley; and two grandchildren, Sophia Margaret and Nicholas Mortensen.
The memorial service will be held in the Memorial Church on May 31 at 1 p.m.