PHILADELPHIA-- Rebecca Bushnell, dean of University of Pennsylvania's College of Arts and Sciences and a distinguished scholar of English literature, will become the next dean of Penn's School of Arts and Sciences effective Jan. 1. She will also hold the title of Thomas S. Gates Jr. Professor.
"After conducting a nationwide search for a new dean, we are delighted to have found the ideal candidate right here at Penn, " said Penn President Amy Gutmann. "Rebecca is an exemplary scholar and educator whose understanding of the critical role that a liberal arts education plays in our society makes her a compelling choice to lead Penn's School of Arts and Sciences. She provided exceptional leadership during her tenure as dean of the College and previously for five and a half years as associate dean for Arts and Letters in SAS."
Bushnell succeeds Samuel Preston, who announced his intention to return to teaching and research upon completion of his seven-year term as dean at the end of December.
"In her years as associate dean and then as dean of the College, Rebecca consistently demonstrated wisdom, creativity and persistence in the pursuit of goals. She keeps her eye on the larger picture and has a full command of details. She also has tremendous stamina, which is essential in this position," Preston said.
A scholar of early modern English literature, culture and history, Bushnell came to Penn in 1982 as a lecturer after completing her Ph.D. in comparative literature at Princeton. She was appointed an assistant professor in 1984, received tenure in 1990 and became a full professor in 1995. A gifted educator, she received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, served for three years as chair of the SAS Committee on Undergraduate Education and directed the Presidential Commission on Strengthening the Community. She recently served as co-director of "Teaching with Technology," a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
After becoming dean of the College in 2003, Bushnell made expanding opportunities for undergraduate research a priority and worked with the provost to institute the new summer research internships program, which provides undergraduates with research-related positions in Penn's arts and culture institutions. In collaboration with the faculty, she oversaw the establishment of the new Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing and the Cinema Studies program. Bushnell and Dennis DeTurck, a professor of mathematics at Penn, initiated a review process to engage faculty and students in developing a new curriculum for the College.
Bushnell has published widely on classical and Renaissance culture. Her books include "Prophesying Tragedy: Sign and Voice in Sophocles Theban Plays," "Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theater in the English Renaissance," "A Culture of Teaching: Early Modern Humanism in Theory and Practice" and most recently "Green Desire", a study of early modern English gardening books. Her new "Companion to Tragedy" is scheduled for publication in the spring.