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Despite reports by two media outlets declaring her a likely favorite for the presidency of the University of Pennsylvania, Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Drew Gilpin Faust said she plans to stay put here at Harvard.
“I am deeply committed to my work at Radcliffe. I am not a candidate for any other job,” Faust, an award-winning historian and former Penn professor, said in a statement yesterday.
Philadelphia Magazine set the rumor mill in motion when an October article included Faust on a list with four other members of academia as possibilities to end up on Penn’s short-list, “if they want the job.”
Penn’s student daily, the Daily Pennsylvanian, further fueled speculation when it reported last week that since the magazine article, both Faust and Radcliffe officials had failed to either confirm or deny Faust’s interest in the position.
Yet Faust seems to have ruled herself out as a candidate for the position, which will be vacated when current President Judith Rodin steps down in June 2004.
According to a university spokesperson, Penn is not disclosing any specifics about the search, which is overseen by a non-binding “Consultative Committee” comprised of students, faculty and trustees of the university, in conjunction with the independent executive placement firm Isaacson Miller Associates.
While Faust denied interest in the position, several members of the academic community said they are not surprised that she was mentioned as a possible candidate.
“I think she’s a very able person. I’m not surprised if she is a candidate,” said Penn History Department Chair Jonathan Steinberg.
Steinberg, who has been briefed on the search, said it was still in its early stages, and that the committee has not formed a short-list yet.
Penn Associate Dean and Professor of History Walter Licht, who described Faust as “a dear, dear friend and colleague,” said that it seemed reasonable that she might be on a short list “given her renown and her ability.”
But Licht said he thought it would be unlikely that Penn could lure Faust back.
“Knowing how important the Radcliffe Institute is and how she’s enjoyed being there, I just can’t see her coming back this way,” he said.
To accept the presidency would indeed be a trip “back” to Penn for Faust. She received her masters there in 1971 and then her Ph.D. in 1975 from the university, both in American Civilization.
Faust also served on Penn’s faculty as Annenberg professor of history from 1989 to 2001, and as director of women’s studies from 1996-2001, prior to her January 2001 move to Cambridge.
When she first took over as dean of the Radcliffe Institute, Faust described her new role as “the most exciting job in higher education.”
Licht said he thinks Faust’s enthusiasm for her deanship, coupled with the fact that she has served as dean for less than two years, are the reasons Faust will retain her “fabulous role” at Radcliffe.
With Faust’s statement, all five of the candidates Philadelphia Magazine proposed have now denied their interest, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian.
Some even seem to have taken a page from Faust’s book. Penn Provost Robert Barchi told the Daily Pennsylvanian that he has the “best job in higher education.”
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