Dianne S. Harris Appointed Senior Program Officer at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dianne S. Harris Appointed Senior Program Officer at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced the appointment of Dianne S. Harris as a senior program officer in Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities. Harris will join the Foundation on November 1.

As a senior program officer, Harris will work on a range of grants and research initiatives supporting undergraduate and doctoral education, advanced scholarship, and the public humanities.

"We are thrilled that someone of Dianne's stature and experience has elected to pivot from her current role as an academic leader to join us here at the Mellon Foundation," said Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President Earl Lewis. "She is an accomplished scholar, proven administrator, and overall student of the humanities and higher education. She will greatly enrich the work we have underway and inform the work we have yet to plan."

Mariët Westermann, executive vice president for programs and research, noted, "Dianne brings to the Foundation the kinds of capacities and commitments needed in this time of great pressure on the humanities and liberal arts education. She has dedicated her career to the humanities as a resource of public life, working to strengthen interdisciplinary research and develop programs that broaden participation in the humanities in and outside universities."  

Harris has been dean for the College of Humanities and a history professor at the University of Utah since 2015.  During her tenure at Utah, she placed particular emphasis on creating and strengthening pipelines to the College of Humanities for community college transfer students and high school students, especially for first-generation and underrepresented groups. Harris also focused on supporting student success through the inauguration of pilot cohort programs such as Humanities Scholars and by collaborating on the creation of the recently launched Digital Matters Lab with the University's Marriott Library. She prioritized raising the visibility of the college and the humanities locally and nationally, and helped recruit an outstanding and diverse group of assistant professors to the university. 

Prior to her appointment at the University of Utah, Harris was director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) and a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Harris's scholarship, which has a broad temporal and geographic reach spanning from 18th-century Lombardy to the postwar United States, is united by a constant interest in the relationship between the built environment and the construction of racial and class identities. She is the author of several books, including The Nature of Authority: Villa Culture, Landscape, and Representation in Eighteenth-Century Lombardy, Maybeck's Landscapes: Drawing in Nature and Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America. She is also editor of the multidisciplinary volume Second Suburb: Levittown, Pennsylvania, series editor for the University of Pittsburgh Press' Culture, Politics, and The Built Environment and co-editor of several works. Harris is a past president for the Society of Architectural Historians and currently serves on the boards of the National Humanities Alliance and the Utah Humanities Council. In 2016, she was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Council on the Humanities.

Harris has been the Principal Investigator for several grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, including a grant to create Humanities Without Walls, a consortium of humanities centers at 15 research-extensive universities throughout the Midwest and beyond—an unprecedented experiment in cross-institutional collaboration in the humanities and arts.

"Joining the Mellon Foundation," Harris said, "is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support the humanities in higher education at an unparalleled scale, and at a time when doing so feels especially urgent. I'm profoundly grateful for the opportunity to join the Foundation, and I look forward to supporting its important work in the United States and beyond. I am also very thankful to have served as dean at the University of Utah where I have enjoyed two especially fulfilling years working alongside outstanding faculty, students, and staff." 

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