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Dean of the College: Rick Beeman of History

Dr. Richard R. Beeman, professor of history, has been named Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Director of the College, effective January 1, Acting Dean Walter Wales announced Monday. Dr. Beeman will succeed Dr. Robert A. Rescorla, who returns to full-time service in the psychology department at the end of December.

A highly regarded teacher and scholar of early American history, Dr. Beeman joined Penn in 1968 as assistant professor after taking his A.B. from Berkeley, his M.A. from William and Mary, and his Ph.D. from Chicago. He became associate professor in 1973, and full professor in 1982, after teaching also at Hull in England, as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer and as the William R. Kenan Profesor of History at Colby College.

Dr. Beeman has twice chaired his department, and was Associate Dean for the Humanities and Social Sciences in SAS in 1991-1995. He has also been a member of the Provost's Council on International Programs, the College Committee on Study Abroad, and the Task Force on the Constitutionalism and Democracy component of the 21st Century Project.

His scholarship on the American Revolution, the Constitution, and early American political culture has produced four books (one of which, Patrick Henry: A Biography, was nominated for the National Book Award in 1974). He is now now completing a fifth, entitled The Varieties of Political Experience in Eighteenth Century America, a summation of work he has been doing in eighteenth century American political history over the course of his career.

Holder of numerous grants and fellowships including those of the NEH and Rockefeller Foundation, he has also served as editor of The American Quarterly (1983-86) and was director of the Philadelphia Center for Early American Studies in 1980-85.

He will continue as senior fellow of the National Constitution Center, the interactive museum which is scheduled to break ground in the year 2000 as a Philadelphia's landmark collaboration of historians, legal and Constitution scholars, public officials, journalists, and others. In that role he is responsible for shaping the educational and programmatic components of the Center, which involves in part being a "broker between the Constitution Center and all of the wealth of intellectual talent that we have here at Penn."

He also continues as chair of the University Task Force on American and Comparative Democratic and Legal Institutions.

In the classroom, "Rick will stop at nothing to share his passion for history with his students, occasionally even dressing as one of the historical figures about whom he is lecturing," said Dr. Wales in announcing the appointment to the faculty. "His strong academic and administrative credentials, together with his seemingly limitless energy and firm commitment to undergraduate education, will make him a dynamic leader of the College."

In accepting his new appointment, Dr. Beeman said that as his predecessor, Bob Rescorla "has greatly increased the stature and effectiveness of the College. By dint of his extraordinary intellect, professional distinction, and sheer efficiency, he has left me with an act that will be very difficult to follow, but I welcome the challenge of trying to do so.

"I want to thank Walter Wales for his confidence in me, and alsoemphaticallyto express my real excitement at working alongside Sam Preston as our new Dean. There is, quite literally, no one within the University with whom I would rather work."

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, December 16, 1997, Volume 44, Number 16