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John Harvard's Journal

Radcliffe Recruits

November-December 2001

A pair of senior faculty appointments unveiled shortly before the beginning of the academic year underscores the intellectual ambitions and new approaches of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Drew Gilpin Faust, dean of the institute, announced that Mahzarin R. Banaji, who has been named Cabot professor of social ethics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), will also become the first Carol K. Pforzheimer professor at Radcliffe. Nancy F. Cott, who joins FAS as professor of history, will also assume the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation directorship of Radcliffe's Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. The appointments take effect January 1, when both women, who currently hold full professorships at Yale, take up their Harvard positions.

The "professorship at Radcliffe," a new title in Harvard academic ranks, is intended to uniquely serve the joint interests of the institute and of any of the University's schools. It provides a new member of any tenured Harvard faculty with four semesters of residence as a Radcliffe fellow during her or his first five years at Harvard--a generous and precious grant of time to focus on research. As such, the Radcliffe professorship can serve as a powerful recruiting tool for FAS or any other faculty seeking to attract prestigious scholars--and perhaps a particularly attractive lure in the competition for candidates who are women. At the same time, the beneficiaries begin their Harvard careers with a strong tie to Radcliffe, providing a foundation for the intellectual community Faust is assembling (see "Radcliffe Ramps Up," September-October, page 58).

Mahzarin studies "social cognition," memory, and the role of implicit factors in determining unconscious stereotypes and prejudice--involving race and gender, for example--even in consciously unprejudiced individuals. She codeveloped the "Implicit Association Test," a measurement tool used to assess unconscious prejudice; an Internet-based version, available at http://buster.cs.yale.edu/implicit/, gives users access to do-it-yourself demonstrations of the process. A member of the Yale faculty since 1986, Banaji has served as director of undergraduate studies in both the psychology department and the women's studies program. She cited resources as diverse as Radcliffe and the FAS Afro-American studies department among Harvard's professional attractions.

Cott, most recently Sterling professor of history and American studies at Yale (a rank similar to Harvard's University Professorships), is a leading scholar of American women's history and gender relations. Her books include The Bonds of Womanhood: 'Woman's Sphere' in New England, 1780-1835, and Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation, on American matrimony, published by Harvard University Press in January. She has also edited an Oxford University Press series of books for high-school students on the history of women in the United States. In her 26 years on the Yale faculty, she helped found and then chaired the women's studies program. For all her years in New Haven, Cott comes to her new Harvard positions with much Cambridge experience, having held fellowships at Harvard Law School, Radcliffe, the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, and the Schlesinger Library. Of the latter, she said, "It has a very important place in my own personal history, in my professional history, and in my heart."

Beyond celebrating the work and forthcoming presence of "these extraordinary scholars," Faust noted that the appointments "demonstrate how Radcliffe and the FAS can work effectively together to make us together more than the sum of our already quite formidable parts." And given her institution's interest in women, gender, and society, she was especially pleased that combining "the intellectual richness of the FAS with the resources of the Radcliffe Institute, particularly in the area of gender studies, has succeeded in bringing two very distinguished women to the tenured faculty."

From the FAS perspective, an ebullient Dean Jeremy R. Knowles saluted this early fulfillment of "one of our hopes at the time of the merger": that the institute "would be seen as a resource and an opportunity that would help to draw distinguished new colleagues here. And so, under Drew Faust's leadership, it has proved! Harvard is a much better place, already."