Deborah K. Fitzgerald, professor of the history of technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, has been appointed Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (SHASS).
Provost L. Rafael Reif made the announcement in an e-mail to the MIT community on Jan. 24. In his letter, he noted that Fitzgerald will continue to lead the 56-year-old School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, having served "with distinction" as its interim dean since former Dean Philip S. Khoury was appointed associate provost in July 2006.
Fitzgerald said of her new role, "I am deeply honored to be asked to serve as dean of SHASS. It is a tremendous privilege to represent my colleagues in the school, and to chart a course that both honors our scholarly traditions and embraces new ideas and practices in our disciplines and our school. I very much look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead."
Fitzgerald's appointment will "continue a tradition of strong leadership in the school. I look forward to working with her to further strengthen our exceptional programs in the humanities, arts and social sciences," Reif wrote.
Reif described Fitzgerald as an "extraordinarily committed member of the school and MIT communities." She has chaired the Gender Equity Committee in the school and has been involved with a variety of Institute-wide committees, including those on academic performance, discipline and graduate school policy. As a member of the Task Force on the Educational Commons, she chaired the subcommittee that developed the recommendations for changes to the HASS requirement that appeared in the task force's recent report.
A leading historian of American agriculture, Fitzgerald is the author of "Every Farm a Factory: The Industrial Ideal in American Agriculture" (2003). Educated at Iowa State University and the University of Pennsylvania, she was on the faculty in the history of science at Harvard University before coming to MIT in 1988. From 1996 to 2001, she chaired the Ph.D. program in history, anthropology and science, technology and society, which is administered by the Program in Science, Technology and Society jointly with the History Faculty and the Anthropology Program. Before her appointment as interim dean, she had served as associate dean of SHASS since April 2005.
Reif also praised the "careful search process," chaired by Pauline R. Maier, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History, and including faculty representation from across the school. He thanked Maier and her colleagues on the advisory committee: Professors Stephen Ansolabehere, Jonathan Gruber, Sally Haslanger, Diana Henderson, James Howe, Henry Jenkins III, Helen Elaine Lee, Richard K. Lester, David A. Mindell, Janet Sonenberg, Donca Steriade and Jing Wang for their service.