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Brown-Nagin Named Radcliffe Dean

Radcliffe Yard.
Radcliffe Yard. By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Lucy Wang, Crimson Staff Writer

Law School Professor Tomiko Brown-Nagin will be the next dean of Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, University President Drew G. Faust announced in a message to Harvard affiliates Thursday morning.

Brown-Nagin is also a professor of History, the co-director of the Program in Law and History, and the faculty director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. Current Radcliffe Dean and 20th century history scholar Lizabeth A. Cohen, who has served in the position for seven years, announced in October that she would step down at the end of this academic year. Brown-Nagin will succeed Cohen on July 1.

In a statement, Faust praised Brown-Nagin’s work as a lawyer and historian.

“She has made significant contributions to our understanding of the history of the Civil Rights movement and, more broadly, of issues as varied as affirmative action, education law and reform, and the Affordable Care Act,” Faust wrote.

Faust served as the first Radcliffe dean herself in from 2000 to 2007 before assuming her role as president of the University. Faust will step down in June after 11 years at Harvard’s helm.

Faust wrote Thursday that Brown-Nagin is “exceptionally well equipped” to take on the role as Radcliffe “matures into an established and renowned institute for advanced study.”

Brown-Nagin was a Radcliffe fellow in the 2016-2017 academic year, where she studied 20th-century American history through the life of Constance Baker Motley, a black woman lawyer, politician, and judge.

Cohen wrote in a statement that Brown-Nagin’s familiarity with Radcliffe, as well as her dual appointments at the Law School and the History Department, position her well to advance Radcliffe’s mission.

“She embodies the intellectual rigor, genuine curiosity, and collaborative spirit that are at the heart of Radcliffe’s unique mission as Harvard’s Institute for Advanced Study, and she combines this with the outstanding insight, judgment, and integrity of a distinguished leader,” Cohen said.

Brown-Nagin wrote in a statement that she looks forward to assuming the deanship.

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to lead the Radcliffe Institute, whose mission to bring scholars together across disciplinary and professional boundaries I enthusiastically embrace,” Brown-Nagin wrote.

Brown-Nagin received her undergraduate degree in history summa cum laude from Furman University in 1992. She later earned her J.D. from Yale in 1997 and her Ph.D. in history from Duke in 2002. She is an expert in constitutional law and educational law policy.

Her book, “Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement,” won the Bancroft Prize in American History in 2012. She’s a member of the American Law Institute, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.

Brown-Nagin has served on a number of committees across the University. She chaired the BGLTQ working group of the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault. She is also currently a member of the advisory committee for the Graduate School of Education’s dean search and she sits on the search committee for a director of Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library.

In 2016, Brown-Nagin also served on a committee to re-evaluate the Law School’s seal in light of its ties to slavery. That committee ultimately recommended to the Harvard Corporation that the school revoke the seal, which featured the crest of the formerly slave-owning Royall family.

President-elect Lawrence S. Bacow, who will also assume his new position in July, wrote that he feels “fortunate” to have participated in the final stages of the search.

“Radcliffe and Harvard will both benefit tremendously from the relationships Tomiko has already established at the Institute and across the University,” he wrote. “I am excited that I will have the opportunity to work with such a wonderful scholar and leader in the years ahead.”

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22

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