For Release Upon Receipt - May 16, 2007
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VIRGINIA SAPIRO NAMED DEAN OF BOSTON UNIVERSITY'S ARTS AND SCIENCES
Former University of Wisconsin Vice Provost to lead BU’s largest college
(Boston) — Virginia Sapiro, the former vice provost at one of the nation’s largest universities, will take the helm of Boston University’s College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (CAS), the institution’s most central teaching and research enterprise and BU’s academic epicenter, Provost David K. Campbell announced today.
The University of Wisconsin’s Sapiro, formerly vice provost for Teaching and Learning at the country’s 11th largest university, replaces Jeffrey J. Henderson, dean since July 2002. Last June, Henderson, the William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of Greek Language and Literature, announced his intention to resign his post effective July 1, 2007, to return to teaching and research in Department of Classics.
Sapiro was the selection of the 11-member CAS Dean Search Committee convened by Campbell last October and headed by Philosophy Department Chair Charles Griswold.
“Dr. Sapiro’s outstanding accomplishments in research, her love of teaching and mentoring, and her breadth of academic and administrative expertise within a large university made her our clear-cut choice as dean,” said Provost Campbell. “We are confident that she will enhance the centrality of a liberal arts education for all Boston University students and lead CAS to still higher levels of excellence in teaching, research and scholarship.”
The BU College of Arts and Sciences offers an education steeped in the traditions of self-discovery and evaluation for the transfer of knowledge in humanities, the natural sciences and social sciences. Serving nearly 9,500 students and home to more than 600 faculty members, CAS is the college where all undergraduate students converge, regardless of major. Students at BU's other undergraduate schools take an average of nearly 40 percent of their classes there, enriching their professional studies with the core principles and essential ideas of the liberal arts.
Sapiro, a New Jersey native who earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science at the University of Michigan, began her academic career in 1976 as an assistant professor in the Political Science Department and Women’s Studies Program at UW-Madison. She ascended to associate professor in 1981 and full professor five years later. She was named chair of the Women’s Studies Program in 1986, and served as chair of the Department of Political Science from 1993-96. In 1995, she was named the Sophonisba P. Breckinridge Professor, named for the social worker, educator and social activist of the early 1900s who was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Political Science and law degree from the University of Chicago.
“The College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is the heart of a great university, and I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead it through its next exciting phase,” said Sapiro, who was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002. “A premier college of arts and sciences must have three core attributes which must frame the work of the dean. First, it must be a vibrant, supportive, productive learning community for its students and faculty across our great diversity of fields, approaches, and experiences. Secondly, it must self-consciously devote itself to the values and practices of the liberal arts and a liberal education. Thirdly, it must be a valuable citizen of the larger communities of which we are part, both within the university and in the world beyond.
“We have to provide a superb undergraduate education that considers the whole person, which provides a foundation of knowledge, skills, creativity and love of learning to serve them throughout their lives.”
From 1997 to 2001, Sapiro was a research scientist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, one of the oldest survey research organizations and a world leader in the development and application of social science methodology.
In 2002, she was appointed UW’s vice provost for Teaching and Learning, a post she held until December 2006. She also served as interim provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs from late 2005 through early 2006. This year, Sapiro was named faculty affiliate to the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Post-Secondary Education, established in 2001 on the UW campus to study the challenges confronting post-secondary education while bringing together university leaders, researchers, and policymakers to discuss issues and solutions.
Sapiro earned her A.B. with High Honors in Government from Worcester’s Clark University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees at Clark, where she chairs the Student Affairs Committee, and is the former vice chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.
Sapiro's research and teaching interests include political psychology and political behavior, gender politics, American political development, democratic theory, and the design and philosophy of social science research. Her first book, The Political Integration of Women: Roles, Socialization, and Politics (1983), serves as a classic in survey-based research on gender and adult political socialization. A Vindication of Political Virtue: The Political Theory of Mary Wollstonecraft (1992), which won the American Political Science Association's Victoria Schuck Award for best book on women and politics, is a study of an 18th century democratic theorist who was one of the most influential thinkers in history on the rights and roles of women. Women in American Society: An Introduction to Women's Studies (5th edition 2002) is a textbook drawing from current social science research in nearly a dozen different disciplines.
She has also written many research articles on topics such as political socialization; social capital; the role of gender in perceptions of political candidates, leaders, and political events; the recruitment of political leaders; electoral politics; the history of the relationship of gender to democratization and public policy; and gender and race politics in relation to the Clinton presidency. Her most recent major research projects have been on the history of political action in the United States and gender in television advertisements for congressional candidates.
In addition to Committee Chair Griswold, the Dean Search Committee was composed of the following members: CAS senior Laura Byerly; Biology Department Chair Geoffrey Cooper; Political Science Professor John Gerring; School of Management Finance and Economics Professor Shulamit Kahn; International Relations Professor William Keylor; College of General Studies Humanities Chair Natalie McKnight; Loren J. Samons, chairman, Department of Classical Studies; Ph.D. candidate Kristy Townsend; Professor Joyce Wong, Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering and Randy Rubinstein, executive assistant to the Provost.
Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences, founded in 1873, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (1874), combine to form the institution’s largest college. Over 7,500 undergrads and nearly 2,000 graduate students were enrolled last year. Arts and Sciences is home to 24 academic departments and 33 research centers and institutes. Undergraduates choose from more than 2,500 courses in the humanities, natural and social sciences, and mathematics and computer science, pursuing B.A. degrees in more than 70 concentrations. Graduate students pursue M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in nearly 50 fields of the humanities; the natural, social, and mathematical sciences; theology; and music.
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