Noteworthy Numbers

The beginning of the Division of the Social Sciences’s 2015–16 academic year was marked by hopes and aspirations: for learning, contemplation, and discovery. I cannot predict which of these hopes will be realized in the months to come. But if the past is any guide (I am after all a historian), many will be. Just how many were realized during the past year was made clear to me over the summer as I read the annual reports submitted by each faculty member: a fascinating task that once more revealed the extraordinary depth and diversity of inquiry that constitutes the Division of the Social Sciences.

We are not quite the same Division that we were at this point last year. Over the past 12 months we found new ways to organize research and teaching, such as the Science of Learning Center and the new MA program in computational social science. We have also worked on existing programs. For example, our incoming class for the MA Program in the Social Sciences is among the strongest and most competitive in history. It is also the most international, thanks to efforts to spread the word of the virtues of the program.

Let me discuss a few more numbers. Your philanthropic support contributed to the best year for the Social Sciences in the past five. Also, despite an adverse environment for federal grants, the Division’s faculty were so successful that federal grant revenues will increase by more than 20 percent this year, with an additional 20 percent increase expected the next.

These numbers are important, insofar as they support our research and teaching. But by far the most important achievements of this past year can be summed up in one prime: 31.

Thirty-one new faculty members were recruited to the Social Sciences in 2014–15, a year that also saw the retirement of five esteemed colleagues (who will remain, I hope and trust, engaged with the Division): Judith Farquhar, AM’75, AM’79, PhD’86; Michael GeyerRobert Lucas, AB’59, PhD’64; Hugo Sonnenschein; and Christine Stansell. The result is a faculty 199 strong: nearly 20 percent larger than it has been in previous decades.

If you visit campus you will see symptoms of this change in laboratory build-outs, building renovations, and countless office moves. But the abiding consequences begin as we welcome these new colleagues into our conversations, classrooms, and collaborations. The results will be as precious as they are unpredictable.

 

Sincerely,
David Nirenberg
Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Medieval History and Social Thought; Dean, Division of the Social Sciences