Northeastern University Provost Stephen W. Director has announced the appointment of Uta G. Poiger as dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, effective July 1, 2013. An accomplished scholar of history and gender studies, Poiger served as the interim dean of the college during the 2012–13 academic year.
In his announcement to all faculty and staff, Director wrote that Poiger “has provided strong leadership, fostering an environment of cooperation and forward thinking and has been a strong advocate for interdisciplinary scholarship and research initiatives.” He continued on to say, “Under her leadership, I expect that the College of Social Sciences and Humanities will reach new levels of excellence in teaching and research. Her commitment to interdisciplinary inquiry will continue CSSH on its path toward becoming a global hub for use-inspired humanities and social science research.”
In her role as interim dean, Poiger advanced interdisciplinary scholarship through key hires and fostered interdisciplinary research initiatives. In particular, she was instrumental in strengthening the NULab for Texts, Images, and Networks, where humanists, social scientists, and computer scientists collaborate on projects such as “Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive.” She has encouraged new opportunities for undergraduate and faculty research and has enhanced support for faculty and graduate student research.
“A liberal arts education, for majors and for non-majors, is crucial for informed citizenship,” Poiger said. “It is vital in a world that is becoming smaller, in a world in which our students will switch jobs many times, and in a world in which they will interact with ever more diverse sets of people. In CSSH, faculty and students work together to find responses to the pressing political and social questions of today, to foster ethical reflection and critical thought, and to focus attention on the enduring significance of history and culture. In short, CSSH has a central role in fulfilling Northeastern’s ambition of educating global leaders.”
As interim dean, Poiger worked with faculty and department chairs to explore how they could assist students in making experiential learning part of their intellectual autobiographies. In addition, she built better communication with and recruitment of prospective students, and under her leadership, the College of Social Sciences and Humanities saw a marked increase in enrolled freshmen. She also enhanced graduate funding and encouraged departments to admit smaller, stronger cohorts of PhD students.
Poiger co-chairs the Presidential Council on Inclusion and Diversity that was created by Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun in February to assess the university’s civic sustainability and develop practical ways to strengthen Northeastern’s diversity infrastructure. In that role, she led the organizing committee for a year-long series of seven campus events hosted by Distinguished University Professor Michael Dukakis on “Conflict, Civility, Respect, Peace: Northeastern Reflects.”
“Given the endless complexities of today’s world, a grounding in the social sciences and humanities is essential for our students,” Aoun said. “Uta Poiger understands this, and she possesses the vision needed to expand Northeastern’s impact on these critical fields—and on new fields that are being invented at the intersection of disciplines. I look forward to working with her on these exciting opportunities.”
Poiger has published and presented extensively on the Cold War, Germany’s international relations, the impact of American culture in Europe, and gender and racial formations. She is part of the editorial collective of Feminist Studies and the chair of the nominating committee for the Modern Europe section of the American Historical Association.
She joined Northeastern in 2011 as chair of the Department of History. In that role, she led the strategic planning effort, overhauled the doctoral program for shorter time to degree, and oversaw the hiring of new faculty members.
Prior to joining Northeastern, Poiger was the graduate program chair in the Department of History at the University of Washington, where she held the Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professorship. She was a visiting associate professor of history and literature at Harvard University, where she was later a visiting scholar at the Minda da Gunzburg Center for European Studies. From 2000-05, she was director of the Institute for Transnational Studies at Washington’s Jackson School for International Studies.
Poiger began her studies at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg, Germany. She holds a master’s degree in American history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In 1995, she earned a PhD in history from Brown University.
-By Emily Rosenbaum