Campus & Community

Stephen Kosslyn named divisional dean for the social sciences

3 min read

Stephen M. Kosslyn, John Lindsley Professor of Psychology and chair of the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), has been named divisional dean for the social sciences, effective July 1.

Kosslyn assumes the role at a pivotal moment for the FAS, with the position of divisional dean newly clarified in order to give more effective and direct support to the departments and to strengthen the FAS by capitalizing on the opportunities before it.

“Stephen Kosslyn will bring to this position his strong administrative experience, great enthusiasm and creative spirit, and a deep commitment to the FAS and its students and faculty,” said Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. “I also wish to thank David Cutler, Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics, who ably led the social sciences as its first divisional dean while maintaining a significant commitment to his teaching.”

Kosslyn began his association with the FAS in 1977 as associate professor of psychology. In 1981 he left Harvard briefly to become, first, associate professor of psychology at Brandeis University (1981-82) and then visiting professor of psychology at Johns Hopkins University (1982-83). In 1983 he returned to Harvard as professor of psychology.

Kosslyn was named John Lindsley Professor of Psychology, a professorship established in memory of William James, in 2001, and has served as department chair since 2005. Prior to becoming chair, he served as head tutor in psychology for 10 years. He has served on numerous committees in the FAS, most recently as a member of the Task Force on General Education in 2006-07. He also served as co-coordinator of the caucus of chairs in 2006-07, and is currently senior adviser in psychology at the Radcliffe Institute.

Kosslyn’s research centers primarily on the nature of visual mental imagery, visual perception, and visual communication. His books include “Image and Mind” (1980), “Image and Brain” (1994), “The Case for Mental Imagery” (2006, co-authored), “Graph Design for the Eye and Mind” (2006), and “Clear and to the Point” (2007). Recently he has collaborated with social psychologists to study the ways in which people with different cognitive strengths work together in groups.

He is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Boyd R. McCandless Young Scientist Award, the National Academy of Sciences Initiatives in Research Award, the Cattell Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among many other honors. He is a member of the Academia Rodinensis pro Remediatione in Switzerland, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

After receiving his B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1970, Kosslyn earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University, also in psychology, in 1974.