History and Africana Studies professor Eve Troutt Powell will serve as the next associate dean for graduate studies in the School of Arts and Sciences, the University announced Monday.
Powell, whose appointment is effective July 1, will become the first African-American associate dean in SAS.
Powell will succeed classical studies professor Ralph Rosen, who is stepping down from his associate deanship to return to a full-time teaching and research position.
As an associate dean in SAS, Powell will oversee the school’s doctoral programs, which enroll approximately 1,400 students.
She currently serves as the graduate chair in the Department of History.
Powell said she was “honored” when Rebecca Bushnell and Steven Fluharty — the current and incoming SAS deans, respectively — asked her earlier this year to consider leading the school’s graduate division.
“I really enjoy working with graduate students, and I think my passion for working with graduate students is one of the things they appreciated,” she said.
Powell added that one of her goals from day one will be to continue the school’s work to diversify the SAS graduate student body.
“At Penn, the push to diversify the graduate student population has been a wonderful example of the University putting its money where its mouth is,” she said. “I’d like to keep that going.”
Powell’s appointment has been received well by some faculty members who, earlier this year, drew attention after writing a guest column in The Daily Pennsylvanian that criticized President Amy Gutmann for not doing enough to diversify the administration.
Powell’s appointment will mark the first time since that column ran in January that a racial or ethic minority faculty member has been selected for a top academic leadership position.
“We’re all very excited — it’s long overdue,” said Department of Africana Studies Chair Camille Charles, one of the authors of the column.
Charles added, though, that while Powell’s appointment is important, there is still work to be done.
“Associate deanships are meaningful and in many instances provide good experiences to create pipelines for minority faculty to move up the ranks, but ultimately the goal is to see more diversity in the senior leadership,” she said.
Sociology professor Grace Kao agreed, adding that Powell is a “great choice” for the position.
For her part, Powell said the prospect of serving as the first-ever African-American associate dean was “one of the reasons I couldn’t say no.”
“I think it’s a sign that the University is taking these discussions about diversity seriously,” she said. “That’s a good thing to see.”