Harvard University yesterday named a senior administrator and historian as the next dean of Harvard College, the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position.
Evelynn Hammonds, Harvard's senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity, will take over as dean of the undergraduate college in June. A professor of the history of science and African and African-American studies who has worked as an administrator the past few years, Hammonds said she was thrilled at the chance to return to working closely with students again.
"I'm extremely excited," she said. "It's an extraordinary opportunity for me."
Hammonds said her top priorities would be overseeing the development of a new undergraduate curriculum, improving the condition of undergraduate dormitories, and improving the quality of student life.
She succeeds David Pilbeam, a professor of human evolution, who had been interim dean since September.
Michael D. Smith, dean of Harvard's faculty of arts and sciences, praised Hammonds as "an outstanding leader who has been actively involved in undergraduate education her whole career."
"She has wonderful ideas about the curriculum and is an ideal choice for us to have as leader at this point," he said.
"I have come to know and greatly admire Evelynn Hammonds these past few years, as a fine scholar, as a strong institutional leader, and as someone who cares profoundly about the educational experience of our students in all its dimensions," Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard president, said a statement.
As senior vice provost, Hammonds has advised Faust on faculty appointments and the hiring and promotion of minorities and women. The university will soon begin a search for her successor.