Kenan Professor of History and of Women's Studies Olwen Hufton has resigned her tenured History Department position, leaving the department with just two senior women faculty and no scholar in women's studies.
Hufton, who studies 18th century French history and the experience of women in early modern Europe, resigned early this semester while nearing the end of a two-year leave of absence at the European University in Florence.
Hufton, reached yesterday in Florence, cited family reasons for her decision to remain in Italy. While she said she would have liked to return to Harvard, University rules do not allow professors to take leaves of absence longer than two years.
"It was a very sad decision to make," Hufton said.
Acting History Department Chair John Womack Jr. said the department will initiate a search this fall to fill Hufton's post. The search is one of five to be conducted by the department next year.
But whereas Hufton's specialty was in European women's history, the new search will be for a professor to teach American women's history, Womack said.
"We need an appointment in American history, anyway," Womack said. "And undergraduate interest is in American history."
Womack, who said having more women in the department would be a "big secondary issue" in the search, said the chances of finding a woman to fill the post are good.
"It's a strong possibility although legally we can't define the chair in any such terms," Womack said. "I think it would be a field in which the pool of candidates is very largely female."
Hufton's History Department colleagues said she will be missed for her expertise.
"She's a leading figure in her field," Professor of Histo-
At European University, largely a research institute, Hufton has taught graduate conference courses in European social history.
While in Florence, she has also completed a book on women in early modern Europe