University People

Dean Dench

Emma Dench
Rose Lincoln/HPAC

McLean professor of ancient and modern history and of the classics Emma Dench, the interim dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences during the current academic year, will assume that post on a regular basis as of July 1. She succeeds Jones professor of statistics Xiao-Li Meng, who became dean in 2012 and is on sabbatical this year; upon his return, he will be engaged with the Harvard Data Science Institute, launching a journal, and will also become president of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences. For a full report, with a description of the issues on Dench’s agenda, see

Enduring Fellow

Charles P. Slichter ’45, Ph.D. 49, LL.D. ’96, a physicist (and son of Lamont University Professor Sumner Slichter) whose quarter-century of service on the Harvard Corporation concluded in 1995, died February 19. Slichter was senior fellow for nearly a decade. The longevity of his service will not be equaled, given the Corporation’s term limits, adopted in 2010. Nor is it likely that his travel on Harvard’s behalf will be exceeded: he commuted to Cambridge from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for meetings, which were then held 20 times yearly—about 500 round trips, with no direct flights.

Departing Dean Smith

Michael D. Smith
Photograph by Stephanie Mitchell/HPAC

Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences since 2007, announced on March 19 that he would step down and return to teaching (he is Finley professor of engineering and applied sciences) upon the appointment of a successor by president-elect Lawrence S. Bacow. Smith had the unenviable task of steering his faculty through the financial crisis and recession—which constrained distributions from the endowment, the source of about half of FAS’s operating revenue—while advancing the enormous (and enormously expensive) House renewal project and sustaining enhanced financial aid. A fuller account of his deanship appears at

Sunstein Shines

Cass Sunstein
Photograph by Stephanie

Walmsley University Professor Cass Sunstein has won the 2018 Holberg Prize, conferred on an outstanding researcher in the arts and humanities, social sciences, law, or theology. The prize, accompanied by an honorarium of approximately $765,000, recognizes his work on behavioral economics and public policy, constitutional law and democratic theory, administrative law, the regulation of risk, and the relationship between the modern regulatory state and constitutional law. The prize announcement called him “the leading scholar of administrative law” in the United States, and noted that he is “by far the most cited legal scholar in the United States and probably the world.” Sunstein and his research were profiled in depth in “The Legal Olympian” (January-February 2015, page 43).

Faculty Deans

Professor of biology Brian D. Farrell (an entomologist whose field work was profiled in “Brian Farrell in Bugdom,” September-October 2003, page 66) and Irina Ferreras, a curatorial assistant in the Harvard herbarium, have been appointed faculty deans of Leverett House, succeeding Mallinckrodt professor of physics Howard Georgi and Ann Georgi.…Separately, Lowell House faculty deans Diana L. Eck and Dorothy A. Austin announced they will step down at the end of 2018-2019; they have been leaders of the House, now being renovated, for 20 years.

Alumni Newsmakers

Katherine A. Rowe
Courtesy of William & Mary

Katherine A. Rowe, Ph.D. ’92, a Renaissance and medieval drama scholar active in digital-humanities research, has been appointed president of William & Mary—the first woman leader of the nation’s second-oldest institution of higher education (1693); she has been provost and dean of the faculty at Smith College.…The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the leading source of philanthropic support for the humanities and related fields, has appointed poet Elizabeth Alexander, RI ’08, a former faculty member at Yale and Columbia, as its president; Conant University Professor Danielle S. Allen, chair of the Mellon board of trustees, made the announcement.…Columbia’s Hamilton professor of American studies, Andrew Delbanco ’73, Ph.D. ’80, a National Humanities Medal honorand and literary scholar who has written forcefully on higher education, has been appointed president of the Teagle Foundation, which supports efforts to improve teaching and learning in the liberal arts.…The Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center, in New York City, has appointed Bill Rauch ’84 as its first artistic director. He was a co-founder of the Cornerstone Theater Company, profiled in the magazine in 1990, and has been artistic director of the acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 2007 (see “Bards of America,” September-October 2017, page 55).

Congressman John Lewis
Courtesy of Congressman John Lewis

Commencement Headliners

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Courtesy of the Radcliffe Institute for
Advanced Study, Harvard University

Congressman John Lewis, LL.D. ’12—already in possession of an honorary degree in recognition of his lifetime of leadership in the American civil-rights movement—returns to Tercentenary Theatre as the principal guest speaker for the 367th Commencement. His appearance on the afternoon of May 24 comes 50 years after the class of 1968 invited Martin Luther King Jr. to be its Class Day speaker; after his assassination, on April 4, his widow, Coretta Scott King, appeared in his place. That background, and Lewis’s connection to President Drew Faust, are detailed at On Radcliffe Day, May 25, Hillary Rodham Clinton—former U.S. senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate—will receive the institute’s Radcliffe Medal; further information appears at The poet and orator at the Phi Beta Kappa Literary Exercises on May 22 will be Kevin Young ’92, poetry editor of The New Yorker (read a review of his new book, Bunk, at, and paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin, Ph.D. ’87 (profiled at

Faculty and Staff

Mark D. Gearan
Photograph Courtesy of the IOP
at Harvard Kennedy School

Mark D. Gearan ’78, former director of the Peace Corps and president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, has been appointed director of the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.…Andrew Elrick, Ed.M. ’07, most recently director of administration for the Business School’s global initiative, has been appointed executive director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the University-wide entity that organizes research and learning experiences throughout Central and South America.…The 2018 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, a leading recognition for work in environmental science, environmental health, and energy, will be conferred on professor of biological oceanography James J. McCarthy in early May; past honorands include Pellegrino University Professor emeritus E. O. Wilson and Heinz professor of environmental policy John P. Holdren.

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