Wellesley College Appoints Richard French and Kathryn Lynch
as Academic Deans

April 23, 2010

CONTACT: Molly Tarantino
mtaranti@wellesley.edu; (781) 283 2901

WELLESLEY, Mass. — Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly and Andrew Shennan, provost and dean of the college, have announced the appointment of Richard French, McDowell/Whiting professor of astrophysics, and Kathryn Lynch, Bates/Hart professor of English, as the college’s next academic deans, effective July 1, 2010.

Richard French and Kathryn Lynch have been appointed the academic deans
of Wellesley College.

“Dick French and Cappy Lynch exemplify the excellence of our faculty in all dimensions of their work,” Shennan said. “They are prolific and highly regarded scholars, with long publication records and extensive recognition from external agencies and professional associations. They are dedicated and skilled teachers and mentors and both have made innumerable contributions to the strength and vitality of this faculty community.”

French and Lynch will replace Deans Joanne Berger-Sweeney and Adele Wolfson, who will conclude six years of service to the dean’s office at the close of the academic year.

French and Lynch will step into enhanced roles, as the dean’s office at Wellesley is being restructured into a provost’s office. The two academic deans will now assume primary responsibility for supporting and supervising all academic departments and programs. An increased number of administrative offices will also report directly to the deans.

“At the end of this consultative process, I feel certain that I have appointed two colleagues with the wisdom, rich experience and vision to rise to the challenge of these expanded leadership roles,” Shennan said. “Our academic departments and programs and the college as a whole will benefit from the high intellectual standards, creative energy and dedication to the mission of the college that have always been the hallmarks of Dick’s and Cappy’s work here.”

French is the director of the Whitin Observatory and is currently chair of the departments of astronomy and geosciences. He is a planetary astronomer, with a primary research interest in the rings and atmospheres of the giant planets, and has been a team member of NASA’s Cassini Mission to Saturn since 1990. He has served as chair of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and now serves on the executive council of the AAS. He has published more than 80 articles in scientific journals, including, most recently, a paper in the journal Science.

Lynch is chair of the English department and a leading Chaucer specialist, who has contributed four books and many articles to Chaucer and medieval studies. Her most recent work deals with the subject of food in the Canterbury Tales. Her scholarship has been recognized by three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has acted as director of the Medieval/Renaissance Studies program, co-director of the Writing Program and chair of the Board of Admission. Most recently, she has served as faculty co-director for Founders/Green halls.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 75 countries.