Announcement from Dean Lizabeth Cohen

Photo by Kathleen DooherPhoto by Kathleen DooherOctober 3, 2017

Dear Friend,

I write to share with you that I have decided this academic year will be my last as dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. When I accepted President Drew Faust’s invitation to join Radcliffe in 2011 on an interim basis, I certainly didn’t expect to find myself, nearly seven years later, stepping down as the Institute’s longest-serving dean. But I could not be more grateful for the experience. Leading Radcliffe has been—and continues to be—an incredible honor.

The Radcliffe Institute’s work is more valuable now than ever to American society and the world. In an era of extreme pressure for quick answers and short-term results, the Institute plays a vital role by maintaining an unwavering dedication to the pursuit of deep, curiosity-driven research to advance knowledge and serve the public good. Our unshakeable belief in the importance of engaging the public in civil discourse around innovative ideas and difficult policy challenges likewise makes a tremendous contribution.

Looking to the future, I am proud to report that Radcliffe is in a strong position to continue fulfilling this critical mission. I couldn’t possibly list everything we have accomplished with your support over the past several years, but I would like to share some highlights:

  • We achieved dramatic growth in attendance at Radcliffe events and organized an increasingly full calendar of diverse and high-quality public and private programs.
  • We invigorated the Schlesinger Library through important new acquisitions that deepen and diversify the telling of American women’s history, more ambitious student programming, and active leadership in the areas of preservation and digitization of materials.
  • We substantially increased the number and diversity of Radcliffe Fellowship applicants.
  • We cemented our role as an invaluable convener across Harvard’s schools, offering many new opportunities to Harvard faculty, and particularly to students.
  • We made critical contributions to University-wide priorities by integrating the creative arts with other disciplines, constructing new state-of-the-art exhibition spaces, and helping to attract outstanding faculty to Harvard through a much expanded Radcliffe Professorships program.
  •  We renovated or made plans to renovate virtually every Radcliffe building, ensuring that we have the facilities we need to achieve our ambitious goals far into the future.

And we surpassed our fundraising goal for The Radcliffe Campaign, an achievement that would not have been possible without the generosity, engagement, and encouragement of our valued supporters. With eight months remaining in the Campaign, we will continue to build on this momentum to mobilize funds for our top priorities and ensure the Institute’s financial strength well into the future.

Our work is not done and we have a lot to accomplish between now and June! The coming year is packed with programs, initiatives, and important goals, including plans for the successful wrap-up of The Radcliffe Campaign and the celebration of what will be a fantastic Radcliffe Day on Friday, May 25. I hope you will take full advantage of all we have to offer, both on campus and online, and I hope to see you here often during the year ahead.

With gratitude and warm regards,


Lizabeth Cohen
Dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, Department of History
Harvard University

Cohen to Step Down as Radcliffe Institute Dean (Harvard Gazette)

A Message from the President: Dean Lizabeth Cohen

A Brief Pictorial History of Lizabeth Cohen

Radcliffe Institute Dean Liz Cohen to Step Down (Harvard Magazine)

Radcliffe Institute Dean Will Step Down at End of Academic Year (The Harvard Crimson)