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Radcliffe Institute Dean Will Step Down at End of Academic Year

Historian Lizabeth A. Cohen will leave her post as dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in June 2018.
Historian Lizabeth A. Cohen will leave her post as dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in June 2018. By Courtesy of Tony Rinaldo
By Kenton K. Shimozaki, Crimson Staff Writer

Lizabeth A. Cohen, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, announced Tuesday that she will step down in June 2018 after seven years in the post.

A scholar of 20th century American history, Cohen was appointed interim dean in 2011. University President Drew G. Faust subsequently named Cohen dean of the University’s smallest unit in 2012.

Cohen has previously served as chair of Harvard’s History department and co-chair of the University’s Common Spaces Committee. Her book, “Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919–1939,” won the Bancroft Prize in American History.

“When I accepted President Drew Faust’s invitation to join Radcliffe in 2011 on an interim basis, I certainly didn’t expect to find myself, nearly seven years later, stepping down as the Institute’s longest-serving dean,” Cohen wrote in a message to Radcliffe affiliates.

The Radcliffe Institute was established after the official merger of Radcliffe College and Harvard University in 1999. The Institute is now home to a fellowship program and the Schlesinger Library, dedicated to documenting the lives of women in America.

Cohen wrote that she thinks the Institute’s work is “more valuable now than ever” to the world.

“In an era of extreme pressure for quick answers and short-term results, the Institute plays a vital role by maintaining an unwavering dedication to the pursuit of deep, curiosity-driven research to advance knowledge and serve the public good,” Cohen added.

Cohen made headlines in November when she waded into the political fray for her criticism of Trump’s then-chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon. Cohen and presidents of six historically women’s colleges penned an open letter criticizing Bannon for comments reflecting “racism, anti-Semitism, and more.”

In 1973, she received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University as part of the institution’s first class that included women. She earned her Ph.D. in History from University of California, Berkeley and later taught at New York University.

“Under Liz’s guidance, the Radcliffe Institute has thrived as a sophisticated home for inventive thinkers and unbounded research,” Faust wrote in an email to Radcliffe affiliates. “I am deeply grateful to Liz for the dedication she has provide to this unique part of our important community.”

Cohen will return to her professorship in the History department of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences following a sabbatical year, according to Faust. Her departure will add an additional leadership opening for Harvard as the University continues to search for Faust’s successor, as well.

Cohen was not immediately available for comment.

—Staff writer Kenton K. Shimozaki can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @KentonShimozaki.

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