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A Message from the President: Dean Lizabeth Cohen

Dear Members of the Radcliffe Community,

Dean Lizabeth A. Cohen announced earlier today that she has decided to step down as dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at the end of this academic year after seven years of outstanding leadership of the Institute.

Under Liz’s guidance, the Radcliffe Institute has thrived as a sophisticated home for inventive thinkers and unbounded research. It has also become a site where curious and engaged members of our academic community can come together with those beyond the University in pursuit of intellectual exploration and ideas that benefit the common good, while at the same time carrying forward Radcliffe’s historic commitment to the study of women and gender.

During her tenure, Liz has advanced the depth and breadth of Radcliffe’s activities along a number of key dimensions. Significant overhaul and expansion of the physical facilities have helped enable innovative programmatic offerings around a redesigned Radcliffe Yard and allowed for the further integration of fine and performing arts into many aspects of life and study at Radcliffe. The Institute serves as a critical convener and catalyst of cutting edge research and practice, both through its flagship fellowship program and through increasing connections with faculty and schools across the University—perhaps most notably through the appointments of Radcliffe professorships and through new opportunities for Harvard graduate and undergraduate students to participate in the intellectual life of the Institute. Liz has worked to extend the reach and research of Radcliffe through its rich public programs both on campus and across the country. She has also bolstered and diversified the programs and holdings of the Schlesinger Library, further enhancing one of the finest collections related to the history of women in the country.

Liz’s leadership and exemplary commitment to the collaborative power of the University have been evident in her role in the Council of Deans, where her incisive and thoughtful comments often help crystalize an issue and move the group forward together. Liz has been a powerful advocate for the mission and future of the Institute, exceeding the goal of the Radcliffe Campaign with gifts from generous alumnae of Radcliffe College as well as supporters and friends of the Institute from across the University.

Following a sabbatical in 2018-19, Liz will return to regular service in the Department of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Provost Garber and I will promptly commence the search for Liz’s successor, and we will be in touch shortly with more information about the search process. If you have thoughts on the Institute and its future directions, on key qualities to seek in a new dean, or on individuals worthy of consideration, please feel free to write to us, in confidence, at

I am deeply grateful to Liz for the dedication she has provided to this unique and important part of our university. I know that Liz and the entire Radcliffe community have exciting projects planned for the year ahead. In the coming months, we will have many occasions to celebrate Liz and her remarkable contributions. In the meantime, I hope you will join me in wishing her well and in thanking her for her service and her leadership.

Drew Faust 

P.S. For more on today’s news, please see this related news story in the Harvard Gazette.