Matthew Delmont, the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of History, and Jane Lipson, the Albert W. Smith Professor of Chemistry, have been appointed associate deans of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, beginning July 1.
Delmont will serve as the Frank J. Guarini Associate Dean of International Studies and Interdisciplinary Programs, overseeing the departments of environmental studies, linguistics, and Native American and Indigenous studies, as well as 10 programs—African and African American studies; Asian societies, cultures, and languages; cognitive science; comparative literature; Jewish studies; Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean studies; Middle Eastern studies; quantitative social science; and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. His division also includes the Frank J. Guarini Institute for International Education and the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric.
As associate dean of the sciences, Lipson will oversee six academic departments, including biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, earth sciences, mathematics, and physics and astronomy; the Neukom Institute for Computational Science; and the research and fellowship operations of Undergraduate Advising and Research.
“In addition to being exceptional scholars and teachers in their fields, Matt and Jane bring a wealth of proven leadership experience, insight, and administrative acumen to their new roles,” says Dean of the Faculty Elizabeth Smith. “I am delighted to welcome them to the leadership team in Wentworth.”
“It’s hard to understand the world we live in today without understanding history,” says Delmont, a scholar of the American Civil Rights Movement. “That’s what motivates me. And I just like research. It’s fun. Even when you’re studying stuff that’s heart-wrenching, trying to put together the puzzle pieces and craft a story out of it is intellectually exciting.”
The author of four books—Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African American Newspapers; Making Roots: A Nation Captivated; Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation; and The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia—his forthcoming project explores the African American experience during World War II.
“I’m interested in stories that people think they know well, and trying to find the hidden figures that reveal different aspects of our nation’s history,” he says. “Almost everyone knows the stories of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, but I’m interested in understanding the Civil Rights Movement outside of the South.”
Delmont—who completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard and his PhD in American studies at Brown, and who has garnered a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors—came to Dartmouth in 2019 from the University of Arizona, where he was a professor of history and the director of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. Previously, he was an associate professor at Scripps College.
For the past year he has served as special advisor to the president for faculty diversity—a one-year appointment that wraps up at the end of June.
“I’m writing about the U.S. government appointing special advisors during World War II to try to understand what’s going on with Black troops at the same time as I get appointed as special advisor here,” he says. “I know that attempts to change institutional culture are hard. I want to maintain a sense of urgency, but also, you just have to stick with it. It’s trying to balance urgency with persistence.”
Of taking on the role of associate dean, he says, “I’m someone who wants to make sure that organizations and institutions function well. The associate dean plays an important role in advocating for departments, programs, and faculty, and I want to be a part of that. The faculty in this division are doing some of the most exciting work at the College, on topics like climate change, migration, and police violence, and are reaching students not only in the classroom, but also through off-campus study programs all around the world—preparing Dartmouth students for the world they’ll encounter when they graduate.”
Delmont says he appreciates Dartmouth’s “scholar-teacher framework. I have a chance to be a researcher in the company of serious scholars while also being at a place that takes teaching seriously. And I like living in the Upper Valley. I’m a distance runner and I love that I can run for 10 miles and only see a couple of cars. I feel like this is home.”
“My origin story as a scientist happened in high school,” says Lipson, the author of more than 100 studies connecting models of materials to their physical qualities, recalling the day her chemistry teacher showed her the atomic model.
“I went home and looked at our coffee table with new respect for everything that was going on in the atoms and molecules in it—the motion, the interactions, the packing. And yet if the probabilities were completely lined up, you could move your hand through it. It seemed like there was this world around me filled with wonders. That made me want to be part of it.”
As a scholar, her primary interest remains “how the molecular nature of the stuff around us connects to their physical properties—the ways they behave,” she says. Her research soft condensed matter physics includes exploring “what makes different kinds of molecules willing to mix together, which is important for designing new materials.”
Some of her lab’s current work focuses on glassy materials—“not just windows, but most of the plastic materials you use in daily life. Glassy solids have lots of applications in optics and electronics, too, but despite their ubiquitous use they are, in some ways, poorly understood. We work on models to understand some of their features, especially when in the form of ultra-thin films,” she says.
Among numerous honors, she has received awards from the American Chemical Society and the American Physical Society, as well as Fellowships from the Royal Academy of Engineering, Imperial College (London), and Harvard University.
Lipson first came to Dartmouth in 1984 as a NATO Fellow from the University of Toronto. Three years later, after a stint at the University of Guelph, she returned as a member of the chemistry department. Lipson has served on more than a dozen faculty and institutional committees, including, most recently, as chair of the Committee on Organization and Policy and as a member of the Provost’s Council on Priorities, roles that Smith says have been “essential to our operations and planning during this pandemic year.”
Committee service occasionally has perks. While serving on the Council on Honorary Degrees, Lipson was assigned to accompany Fred Rogers ’50, who gave the commencement address in 2002, in the procession on the Green.
“He stopped to talk to a small child while we were paused,” she says. “The line started moving forward, and someone said, ‘Move him along!’ I thought: ‘I am not moving along Mr. Rogers!’”
Of the associate deanship, she says, “This new role represents an opportunity to learn about scholarly work going on all around campus, especially in the sciences. It will also allow me to advocate in new ways for faculty colleagues and for science at Dartmouth. I want to contribute my energy and enthusiasm for making Dartmouth a competitive and appealing choice for a diverse group of colleagues to advance their careers and enjoy their lives.”
Gratitude to the Outgoing Associate Deans
Lipson takes on the role of associate dean of the sciences from Dan Rockmore, the William H. Neukom 1964 Distinguished Professor of Computational Science and Professor of Mathematics. Delmont succeeds Dennis Washburn, the Burlington Northern Foundation Professor in Asian Studies in Honor of Richard M. Bressler ’52.
“I want to thank Dennis and Dan for their dedicated service these past four years, and particularly during this past year, with its incredible challenges in all facets of our work, locally, nationally, and internationally,” says Smith. “They have been invaluable for the successful recruitment and support for faculty in their respective divisions—and wonderful colleagues for the entire dean of the faculty team.”
Hannah Silverstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.