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The following is from a memorandum sent by Dean Samuel Preston on Friday, January 16, to the standing faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences.


SAS: Dr. Rebecca Bushnell as Associate Dean for Humanities; Reorganization of the Dean's Office

Just prior to the official start of my deanship this week, I received word that Eugene Narmour, who served as Associate Dean for the Humanities and Social Sciences since 1995, suffered a minor stroke just after the new year began. To everyone's great relief, Gene is recovering nicely and plans to continue as a faculty member in Music. Under the circumstances, however, Gene has informed me that he is stepping down from his post as Associate Dean, effective immediately.

Gene's sudden departure from the Dean's office is a tremendous loss for SAS, and I would like to express my gratitude for all that he has done to strengthen the School. Gene's accomplishments during the past two and a half years-whether in helping to recruit and retain top faculty, leading our effort to establish a new Humanities Center, or spearheading the revitalization of area studies and foreign language instruction-have been extraordinary. As a longtime friend and colleague of Gene's, I was very much looking forward to working with him in the Dean's office. I know that you join me in wishing Gene a speedy recovery and a well-deserved rest.

In my conversations with Gene, his most central concern was identifying someone who could carry on the momentum that we have achieved in the humanities. In that connection, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Rebecca W. Bushnell, Professor of English, to the newly-configured post of Associate Dean for Arts and Letters.

Rebecca's scholarship, which is enabled by a mastery of six languages, ranges from Sophoclean tragedy to English Renaissance drama and includes forays into theatre and politics. This versatility will be a vital asset in the administration of the many activities under her purview. Her most recent book is A Culture of Teaching: Early Modern Humanism in Theory and Practice (Cornell, 1996). Rebecca's outstanding teaching was honored with a Lindback Award in 1986, and she has received fellowships from the ACLS and the Folger Institute.

Rebecca's service to the English department, the School, and the University has been exemplary. She chaired the Graduate Group in English from 1991 to 1994, currently chairs the SAS Committee on Undergraduate Education and is a member of the Humanities panel of the SAS Personnel Committee. She was director of the campus-wide Presidential Commission on Strengthening the Community (1993-94) and has also served as chair of the University Council Committee on Libraries (1995-96).

Rebecca received her B.A. with distinction in English literature from Swarthmore College, an M.A. in English literature from Bryn Mawr College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with distinction in comparative literature from Princeton University. She joined Penn's English faculty as an assistant professor in 1984 and became a full professor in 1995.

Rebecca will be an extraordinarily effective spokesperson for arts and letters across both SAS and the University and to external constituencies as well. She brings to the Dean's office a broad perspective on the humanities that will be critical to our efforts to maintain and advance our outstanding programs of scholarship and teaching in this area.

I have reorganized the Dean's office so that all four associate deans will be responsible for direct departmental oversight.

  • As Associate Dean for Arts and Letters, Rebecca Bushnell will be responsible for the departments of Classical Studies, English, Folklore and Folklife, German, History of Art, Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Romance Languages, and Slavic Languages.
  • Associate Dean David Balamuth will add oversight of the Linguistics department to his present duties.
  • In addition to his duties as Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Walter Licht will be responsible for the departments of Anthropology, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, History, Sociology, and South Asia Regional Studies.
  • College Dean Rick Beeman, who is chairing the University's task force to identify senior appointments in the Political Science department, will be directly responsible for that department.

Supported by our talented set of associate deans and department chairs, I look forward to working with the faculty in the years ahead.

-- Samuel H. Preston, Dean

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, January 20, 1998, Volume 44, Number 18