Officials at Harvard University have announced that Dr. Evelynn Hammonds, the university’s senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity, will soon become the new dean of Harvard College, making her the first woman and Black to hold the position.
Hammonds, who is a graduate of Spelman College, will begin her new position as dean of the undergraduate college on June 1.
University officials say that Hammonds, also a professor of the history of science and of African and African American Studies, “has a distinguished record of service to Harvard University.” Part of her responsibilities in her current position involves advising the provost and president on faculty appointments and supporting issues related to the recruitment of minorities and women.
Hammonds was unavailable for comment but in a recent statement says she is looking forward to the new position.
“I am honored to have this extraordinary opportunity to lead the college with its exceptional students at such an important period in its history,” Hammonds says. “I know that there are many challenges facing the college, and I am ready to tackle them with my colleagues’ help.”
Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, chair of the African and African American Studies Department at Harvard, says Hammonds will bring a diverse set of skills to her new position as dean.
“She has been a tremendous colleague … she has a good sense of the faculty and she has a good sense of what the students need and what the educational issues are,” Brooks Higginbotham says. “She will do an excellent job, and we are all very proud of her here in the Department of African and African American Studies.”
According to the university’s website, Hammonds joined the faculty of arts and sciences in 2002 after leaving a teaching post at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was the founding director of the Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology and Medicine. Hammonds – who has a master’s degree in physics from MIT and bachelor’s degrees from Spelman and the Georgia Institute of Technology – has researched various fields of study, including public health, gender in science and medicine and African-American history.
Dr. Michael D. Smith, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, says Hammonds will excel in helping to oversee the college’s undergraduate curriculum.
“I am very pleased that someone as thoughtful, talented, and skilled as Evelynn Hammonds will take on the leadership of Harvard College,” says Smith in a recent statement. “She is an outstanding leader with a keen understanding of the changing and diverse needs of our undergraduates both inside and outside the classroom. She also recognizes the extraordinary talents and promise that these students possess. I look forward to working with her.”
Harvard President Dr. Drew Faust echoes Smith’s sentiments and adds that Hammonds, who has a doctoral degree in the history of science from Harvard, will bring strong leadership qualities to the appointment.
“I have come to know and greatly admire Evelynn Hammonds these past few years, as a fine scholar, as a strong institutional leader and as someone who cares profoundly about the educational experience of our students in all its dimensions,” Faust says. “This is an exciting moment of change for the college, and Evelynn’s academic values and leadership qualities promise to serve our undergraduates well.”
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