Three Scholars Tenured In FAS

New Chairs in History, English And Anthropology

Three scholars will join the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) next year as full tenured professors, including a biological anthropologist who is currently a junior professor at Harvard, an American historian from New York University and a critic of British literature who teaches at Johns Hopkins University.

The appointment of Maryellen Ruvolo '74, a geneticist who studies the evolution of primates, will fill a gap in the anthropology department's research, according to department chair Peter T. Ellison.

"It's been a long-term goal of ours to have a senior geneticist who does contemporary molecular genetics, beacuse we see research in that area complementing traditional research in the fossil record," said Peter T. Ellison, who also is curator of human biology at the Peabody Museum.

Because of the scarcity of geneticists who study anthropology as opposed to biology, Ellison said the department's biological wing has conducted an on-going search for a scholar of Ruvolo's qualifications.

"We've been trying to make a senior appointment in this area for over a decade," Ellison said.

Ellison said the department has been following Ruvolo throughout her seven years as a junior Faculty member.

"We decided we need to find the best junior person doing [molecular genetics] in anthropology and see if that person can in due course become a tenured professor," he said.

Ruvolo, who is an associate professor and received her Ph.D. at Harvard, teaches several biological anthropology courses, including Anthopology 173: "Evolution and Co-Evolution," this semester.

Next semester, she will teach Anthropology 163: "Molecular Evolution of Primates," according to Elizabeth Rew, the department's undergraduate coordinator.

Her students in Anthropology 103: "Genes and Human Diversity," gave her a score of 3.9 out of 5 in the 1994-95 academic year, according to the CUE Guide.

After what English department Chair Leo Damrosch described as a "wild card" search, tenure also was extended to Jeff Guillary, who will leave a post at Johns Hopkins.

"We called it 'wild card' because we wanted to look at a lot of interesting people, not in any conventional category," said Damrosch, who is also Birnbaum professor of literature. "We'd gotten every indication that he was a good teacher, and in the end Guillary was what we needed."

Guillary's original specialty was in English Renaissance literature, but more recently he has published a book, Cultural Capital, examining the history of literary criticism.

"If you wrote him up simply as a Renaissance scholar, you wouldn't quite capture the full range of interests he brings to the department, and where exactly his head is at the moment," said Barbara K. Lewalski, who as Kenan professor of history and literature and of English literature shares Guillary's Renaissance specialty.

Guillary is currently a visiting professor at Princeton, where Amada K. Sandoval '87, a graduate student in English, said she was "very envious" of Harvard.

"He's absolutely phenomenal, and I'm disappointed that Princeton wasn't able to offer him anything," Sandoval said. "Harvard's making a very shrewd move. Anyone who can take a class from him should."

Damrosch noted that Guillary, a graduate student at Yale during the "great days" of its English department in the '70s, was in his mid-40s--unusually young for a senior Faculty member.

"We're trying to get younger people than the standard full professor. Because the Harvard tenure process is so difficult, the people in their 40s who should be the backbone of the department aren't here," Damrosch said, noting that tenured Faculty were usually accepted in their 50s. "Guillary can help bridge that gap."

Ending a long search for a modern American historian, the history department also offered tenure to Elizabeth Cohen, a professor at New York University (NYU).

"It's a good appointment," said Donald H. Fleming, Trumbull professor of American history at Harvard. "We badly need a professor of the political history of the 20th century United States."

Cohen, a historian of the 20th century, has previously held positions at Carnegie Mellon University and NYU, two "very diffuse" urban campuses, and said she looked forward to Harvard's "collegiality."

At Carnegie Mellon and NYU, "I haven't been able to get to know many of my undergraduates or my fellow Faculty in other fields," Cohen said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I was attracted to Harvard students, I like Cambridge and I'm attracted to a more residential college experience."

Cohen has published two books in recent years on Chicago workers in the New Deal, and "the politics of consumption in post-war America."

"My appointment is part of a commitment of the administration to build on the side of the American history field," she said. "I'm very appreciative about how committed the department is to my field."

Cohen said she planned to offer American history courses including seminars and focused surveys on the '20s, '30s and the New Deal era.

"My guess is that I'll have classes with more than just history concentrators, just because of the nature of the field," she said.

--Georgia N. Alexakis contributed to the reporting of this article