Melissa Nobles Appointed Dean of SHASS

May 21, 2015

To the members of the MIT community,

I am very pleased to share the news that Melissa Nobles, the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and current head of the Department of Political Science, will become the next Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, beginning July 1, 2015.

She will succeed Dean Deborah Fitzgerald, who announced last fall that she would step down this June, having served since 2006.

Melissa joined our faculty in 1995, fresh from earning her PhD in political science at Yale. Since then she has distinguished herself as a scholar in MIT's best problem-solving tradition, living out her department's commitment to "rigor and relevance" through pioneering research on global questions of racial and ethnic politics and justice. In her two books, Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics and The Politics of Official Apologies, she draws illuminating comparisons across societies as disparate as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil and the United States. This cross-cultural perspective also informs her teaching, where she takes particular pleasure in watching students from the US and other parts of the world open each other's minds to new points of view.

As department head since 2013, Melissa has fostered several new faculty research initiatives with an emphasis on real-world impact, from MIT's Gov/Lab, which works to help civic organizations improve citizen participation and government accountability, to the interdisciplinary Neuroscience and Social Conflict Initiative, organized with BCS Professor Rebecca Saxe, which seeks to improve our understanding of how basic cognitive wiring and social norms can interact to inflame or contain social conflict.

Melissa has also offered her service to our community as Associate Chair of the faculty (2007-09), and to her profession in many different roles; she currently serves on the editorial board of Perspectives on Politics and has served as vice president of the American Political Science Association.

I very much look forward to working with Melissa and I know you will join me in congratulating her as she begins her new role. I would also like to thank the members of Search Committee, led by Evan Ziporyn, for identifying such an outstanding pool of candidates to lead the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Martin A. Schmidt

Search Committee members:

Sandy Alexandre (Literature)
David Autor (Economics)
Will Broadhead (History)
Fotini Christia (Political Science)
Caspar Hare (Philosophy)
Sabine Iatridou (Linguistics)
Heather Paxson (Anthropology)
T.L. Taylor (Comparative Media Studies/Writing)
Emma Teng (Global Studies and Languages)
Rosalind Williams (Science, Technology and Society)
Evan Ziporyn (Music) committee chair