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Uta Poiger appointed interim CSSH dean

Uta G. Poiger, professor and chair of the history department, has been appointed as interim dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, made the announcement after informing the university that Georges Van Den Abbeele is stepping down as dean of CSSH to take a position at the University of California, Irvine.

Poiger, a scholar of modern history with a particular focus on 20th-century German culture and society, joined Northeastern in July 2011. Her scholarship also focuses on global debates over “Americanization” processes, racial formations and the history of women and gender.

“In my role as interim dean, I look forward to working with colleagues and Northeastern’s leadership in building the considerable strengths of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, a college whose work is central to the liberal arts education of all Northeastern students,” Poiger said. “I also look forward to fostering the exciting initiatives in which the college is a key force, from work in the digital humanities and computational social sciences, to sustainability and urban affairs, to international affairs and global justice, to security studies.”

Since joining CSSH, Poiger has worked to advance departmental and college initiatives, including co-chairing the college’s Curriculum Committee and working on the Digital Humanities and Computational Social Sciences initiative as well as its governance reform. She has also served on the CSSH Resources and Graduate Funding Committees, the Humanities Center Board and the Provost’s Tenure and Promotion Advisory Committee.

“Dr. Poiger is well positioned to maintain the college’s momentum during this important transition,” Director said in a memo released on Wednesday. He noted that the university would launch a search on a national and international scale for a new dean.

Van Den Abbeele joined Northeastern as part of the creation of the university’s three new colleges in 2010. As founding dean of CSSH, his leadership has been instrumental in building on the university’s existing strengths in the social sciences and humanities.

During the past two years the college has recruited accomplished academics, including new department chairs for History and Political Science and new directors of the programs in International Affairs and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The quality of students in the college has also been rising—the mean SAT score of entering students increased from 1325 in fall 2010 to 1375 in fall 2012. And since 2010, the college has recruited 20 new outstanding faculty, including clusters of interdisciplinary scholars in the areas of urban sustainability and environmental health. Van Den Abbeele has also promoted new areas of excellence in cutting-edge fields, such as computational social sciences and digital humanities.

“The College of Social Sciences and Humanities has achieved a great deal of momentum since its founding and we must continue this momentum during the transition period,” Director said.

Poiger came to Northeastern from the University of Washington, where she was a professor of history and holder of the Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professorship in History. At her former institution, she has also served as director of the Institute for Transnational Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies and of the History department’s graduate programs.

She earned her doctorate in History from Brown University and received a master’s degree in American History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She holds a bachelor’s degree in History and German Literature from Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg, Germany. She has held visiting appointments in History, History and Literature, as well as at the Minda da Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University.

Poiger’s appointment is effective Nov. 15, 2012. Van Den Abbeele will remain on the faculty until Dec. 31, 2012.