Peter Marsden Appointed Dean of Social Science

The sociologist oversees a large Arts and Sciences division.

Peter V. Marsden, Geisinger professor of sociology and a Harvard College Professor, has been appointed dean of social science—one of the substantive, divisional deanships within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS)—effective January 1, FAS dean Michael D. Smith announced today. Marsden succeeds Stephen M. Kosslyn, Lindsley professor of psychology, who had held the post since July 2008; as previously reported, Kosslyn has been appointed director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

According to the announcement, Marsden came to Harvard in 1987 and has twice chaired the sociology department (see his biography, publications, and course offerings). His research, focusing on social organization and social networks, was described thus:

He was a lead investigator of three National Organizations Studies conducted between 1991 and 2003, and a co-investigator on a project that examined organizational approaches to the improvement of HIV care. Using these organizational databases he studied organizational factors linked to the use of human resource practices in U.S. workplaces—including recruitment and staffing methods, "high performance" practices, and employment of contingent workers, as well as the quality of informant reports about characteristics of medical clinics. His methodological work concentrates on survey research techniques and methods for the collection and analysis of social network data. He is a Co-Principal Investigator of the General Social Survey, which has measured and tracked trends in socio-political behaviors and attitudes among U.S. adults since 1972. Between 1991 and 1995 he edited Sociological Methodology, the American Sociological Association’s annual methodology volume. Most recently, Marsden co-edited the second edition of the Handbook of Survey Research, which appeared earlier this year.

Faculty members may recognize him particularly as chair of the University's committees on employee benefits and on health plans for faculty members and Harvard staff employees.

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