Renowned Scholar and Author Carolyn Dinshaw Joins the Mellon Foundation as Senior Program Officer for Higher Learning

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Renowned Scholar and Author Carolyn Dinshaw Joins the Mellon Foundation as Senior Program Officer for Higher Learning

(NEW YORK, NY – February 10, 2022) The Mellon Foundation today announced the appointment of scholar and author Carolyn Dinshaw, PhD as Senior Program Officer for the Foundation’s Higher Learning grantmaking area under Program Director Phillip Brian Harper.  The position, which Dinshaw will start February 14, supports efforts to shape and direct funding for higher education, specifically in the humanities and liberal arts. 

Dinshaw is an internationally celebrated scholar and teacher whose extensive academic work has focused on gender, sexuality, race, and religion in the late Middle Ages and beyond and the ways in which the medieval past continues to resonate in modern and contemporary times.  She joins Mellon following her 23-year tenure as Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and English at New York University, where her courses ranged in subjects from “Medieval Misogyny” to “Queer New York City.” 

“The breadth of Carolyn’s experience across public and private universities and liberal arts colleges, and her creative approach to pursuing meaningful change, makes her the ideal person to fill this role as part of our already dynamic Higher Learning program team,” said Carter Stewart, the Mellon Foundation’s Executive Vice President for Programs.  “We are thrilled to welcome her as we continue to work ambitiously to drive multivocality, deep partnership, and directional grantmaking for all of our higher learning grantees and partners.“ 

“In addition to being a world-class scholar, Carolyn is also an innovative and accomplished program builder, and a forward-thinking academic administrator with a deep knowledge of the humanities in all their complexity,” said Higher Learning Program Director Phillip Brian Harper.  “Our Higher Learning community will benefit not only from her strategic vision and expertise but also from the generosity of her understanding. We are extremely fortunate to welcome her to the program.”  Harper further notes, “Carolyn brings familiarity with a wide range of higher-ed institution types, experience teaching incarcerated individuals, and compelling ideas for invigorating humanities curricula—all of which are critical as Mellon’s Higher Learning program continues to advance its grantmaking.”

Dinshaw’s path as academic leader and institution-builder began with her appointment at the University of California at Berkeley, where she was instrumental in the early development of the institution’s LGBT Studies program.  Following her appointment at New York University, she founded and directed the interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and headed the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.  In addition, with a small faculty group, she helped to create the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis and served as chair in 2006–2007 and from 2012–2015.  In 2015 she was named Julius Silver, Roslyn S. Silver, and Enid Silver Winslow Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and English, and most recently served as Dean for the Humanities from 2018 to 2021. 

Among Dinshaw’s publications are the award-winning book, Chaucer's Sexual Poetics (University of Wisconsin Press, 1989)—the first full-length feminist study of Chaucer, and The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women’s Writing (Cambridge University Press, 2003), co-edited with David Wallace.  In addition, in collaboration with David M. Halperin, Dinshaw founded and edited from 1993 to 2005 the award-winning, flagship journal of LGBT Studies, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies published by Duke University Press.  
In 2017, Dinshaw was the recipient of Yale University’s James Robert Brudner Memorial Prize, a celebration and acknowledgment of lifetime accomplishment and scholarly contributions in the field of LGBTQ+ Studies.  

“This is the moment to uncover and deploy the full power of the Humanities—interdisciplinary, problem-oriented, public-spirited—to help bring about a more just next world,” said Dinshaw.  “I’m particularly excited to join Phil Harper and the brilliant Higher Learning team in helping to broaden access to higher learning, whether it be by developing and shoring up pathways between two- and four-year higher educational institutions, expanding higher education in prisons, or exploring and connecting to cutting-edge work being done in cultural institutions and organizations outside academia.”

Dinshaw earned her AB from Bryn Mawr College and her PhD in English Literature from Princeton University.  She served as president of the New Chaucer Society, board member of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York, and has been an active member of numerous editorial and advisory boards.

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Dinshaw is currently based in New York City. 

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