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Professor Harriet Ritvo of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies and the history faculty will become the new associate dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science, effective July 1.
In announcing the appointment, Dean Philip S. Khoury of the School of Humanities and Social Science described Professor Ritvo as "a distinguished cultural historian and critic with a strong interdisciplinary focus to her scholarship and teaching.
"Over the years, she has also provided exemplary service to our school and the Institute," Dean Khoury said. "Her numerous academic accomplishments and honors, prominence in the profession, wide-ranging intellectual interests, and enormous personal integrity make her eminently qualified for her new post."
As associate dean, Professor Ritvo's responsibilities will include oversight of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Science curriculum and new educational initiatives and projects in the school. She will work closely with the HASS office and with undergraduate and graduate program officers in the school's 10 departments, sections and programs. She will also be directly involved in all faculty personnel decisions as a member of the School Council.
Professor Ritvo is known as a versatile and original scholar of the Victorian period and an accomplished essayist who has written widely on topics in the humanities and social sciences. Her critically acclaimed book, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age, published by the Harvard University Press in 1987, is about 19th century British social mores as reflected in their attitudes toward animals. Stephen Jay Gould, the Harvard evolutionary biologist, praised the book's "brilliance." She is currently at work on a cultural history of animal classification in 18th and 19th century Britain.
Professor Ritvo received an AB in English from Harvard in 1968, attended Girton College at Cambridge University in England and received a PhD from Harvard in 1975. She was on the staff of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences from 1976 to 1979, when she came to MIT as a lecturer in writing. She became an assistant professor in the Writing Program in 1980 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1987, and to full professor in 1992, with a joint appointment as professor of history and writing.
She has been awarded fellowships from the Stanford Humanities Center, the Yale Center for British Art, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Humanities Center. In 1990 she received the Whiting Writers' Award.
Professor Ritvo is president of the MIT Phi Beta Kappa chapter. She serves on the Faculty Policy Committee and the Committee on Animal Care.
A version of this article appeared in the May 20, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 36, Number 31).