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Uta Poiger named new dean of CSSH

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Provost Stephen W. Director has announced the appoint­ment of Uta G. Poiger as dean of the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties, effec­tive July 1, 2013. An accom­plished scholar of his­tory and gender studies, Poiger served as the interim dean of the col­lege during the 2012–13 aca­d­emic year.

In his announce­ment to all fac­ulty and staff, Director wrote that Poiger “has pro­vided strong lead­er­ship, fos­tering an envi­ron­ment of coop­er­a­tion and for­ward thinking and has been a strong advo­cate for inter­dis­ci­pli­nary schol­ar­ship and research ini­tia­tives.” He con­tinued on to say, “Under her lead­er­ship, I expect that the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties will reach new levels of excel­lence in teaching and research. Her com­mit­ment to inter­dis­ci­pli­nary inquiry will con­tinue CSSH on its path toward becoming a global hub for use-​​inspired human­i­ties and social sci­ence research.”

In her role as interim dean, Poiger advanced inter­dis­ci­pli­nary schol­ar­ship through key hires and fos­tered inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research ini­tia­tives. In par­tic­ular, she was instru­mental in strength­ening the NULab for Texts, Images, and Net­works, where human­ists, social sci­en­tists, and com­puter sci­en­tists col­lab­o­rate on projects such as “Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Dig­ital Archive.” She has encour­aged new oppor­tu­ni­ties for under­grad­uate and fac­ulty research and has enhanced sup­port for fac­ulty and grad­uate stu­dent research.

“A lib­eral arts edu­ca­tion, for majors and for non-​​majors, is cru­cial for informed cit­i­zen­ship,” Poiger said. “It is vital in a world that is becoming smaller, in a world in which our stu­dents will switch jobs many times, and in a world in which they will interact with ever more diverse sets of people. In CSSH, fac­ulty and stu­dents work together to find responses to the pressing polit­ical and social ques­tions of today, to foster eth­ical reflec­tion and crit­ical thought, and to focus atten­tion on the enduring sig­nif­i­cance of his­tory and cul­ture. In short, CSSH has a cen­tral role in ful­filling Northeastern’s ambi­tion of edu­cating global leaders.”

As interim dean, Poiger worked with fac­ulty and depart­ment chairs to explore how they could assist stu­dents in making expe­ri­en­tial learning part of their intel­lec­tual auto­bi­ogra­phies. In addi­tion, she built better com­mu­ni­ca­tion with and recruit­ment of prospec­tive stu­dents, and under her lead­er­ship, the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties saw a marked increase in enrolled freshmen. She also enhanced grad­uate funding and encour­aged depart­ments to admit smaller, stronger cohorts of PhD students.

Poiger co-​​chairs the Pres­i­den­tial Council on Inclu­sion and Diver­sity that was cre­ated by North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun in Feb­ruary to assess the university’s civic sus­tain­ability and develop prac­tical ways to strengthen Northeastern’s diver­sity infra­struc­ture. In that role, she led the orga­nizing com­mittee for a year-​​long series of seven campus events hosted by Dis­tin­guished Uni­ver­sity Pro­fessor Michael Dukakis on “Con­flict, Civility, Respect, Peace: North­eastern Reflects.”

“Given the end­less com­plex­i­ties of today’s world, a grounding in the social sci­ences and human­i­ties is essen­tial for our stu­dents,” Aoun said. “Uta Poiger under­stands this, and she pos­sesses the vision needed to expand Northeastern’s impact on these crit­ical fields—and on new fields that are being invented at the inter­sec­tion of dis­ci­plines. I look for­ward to working with her on these exciting opportunities.”

Poiger has pub­lished and pre­sented exten­sively on the Cold War, Germany’s inter­na­tional rela­tions, the impact of Amer­ican cul­ture in Europe, and gender and racial for­ma­tions. She is part of the edi­to­rial col­lec­tive of Fem­i­nist Studies and the chair of the nom­i­nating com­mittee for the Modern Europe sec­tion of the Amer­ican His­tor­ical Association.

She joined North­eastern in 2011 as chair of the Department of History. In that role, she led the strategic plan­ning effort, over­hauled the doc­toral pro­gram for shorter time to degree, and oversaw the hiring of new fac­ulty members.

Prior to joining North­eastern, Poiger was the grad­uate pro­gram chair in the Depart­ment of His­tory at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ington, where she held the Gio­vanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Pro­fes­sor­ship. She was a vis­iting asso­ciate pro­fessor of his­tory and lit­er­a­ture at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, where she was later a vis­iting scholar at the Minda da Gun­zburg Center for Euro­pean Studies. From 2000-​​05, she was director of the Insti­tute for Transna­tional Studies at Washington’s Jackson School for Inter­na­tional Studies.

Poiger began her studies at Albert-​​Ludwigs-​​Universität in Freiburg, Ger­many. She holds a master’s degree in Amer­ican his­tory from the Uni­ver­sity of Mass­a­chu­setts at Amherst. In 1995, she earned a PhD in his­tory from Brown University.

By Emily Rosenbaum

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