A message to faculty and staff from President Mark Burstein:

Dear Lawrence faculty and staff,

I am very pleased to announce that Catherine Gunther Kodat will be joining Lawrence as our next provost and dean of the faculty. Katie will also join the English department as a full professor with tenure.  

Katie comes to Lawrence from Lewis & Clark, where she is dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. She began her academic career at Hamilton College, where over 17 years she rose from assistant to full professor, chaired the English and creative writing department, and directed American studies. She won the Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award at Hamilton in 2008. Between Hamilton and Lewis & Clark, Katie served as acting provost and dean of the Division of Liberal Arts at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.   

Katie’s academic background, accomplishments, and interests are a perfect fit with Lawrence. She started her undergraduate career at the Peabody Institute as a piano performance major. She completed her bachelor of arts degree summa cum laude at the University of Baltimore and her doctorate in English from Boston University. Katie has received many honors, including a Fulbright Lecturer Grant to Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem (ELTE) in Budapest, a research fellowship at the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford, and the Millicent C. McIntosh Flexible Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Her recent book, Don’t Act, Just Dance: The Metapolitics of Cold War Culture, has received significant acclaim. Between college and graduate school, Katie was a reporter for the Baltimore City Paper and then the Baltimore Sun, where she was a metro desk reporter and the paper’s chief dance critic. 

Katie’s interest in Lawrence drew early attention from the search committee. Our interactions with her only increased our interest. Among the many references we received, one colleague told us: “She is super smart. She is very organized. Katie is capable in all of her work. She is highly responsible and firm when firmness is needed. She is a good listener, open to ideas of others. She has a clear sense of priority and focus for what matters. Her approach is certainly open to revisions. She is not in any way loose in her thinking or assertive of her own view, but she is firm as well.” Others commented on her high standard of transparency and ethical leadership and her sense of adventure and interest in having fun.

In terms of her ability to represent the faculty within the administrative structure, another colleague said: “She is a passionate advocate for her faculty. I see all the passion of her breadth of knowledge articulated there. I know her academic background, but if I just saw her operating, I would not be able to identify her particular discipline. She has been at a liberal arts school and has been at a conservatory. She knows the terrain very well.”

Katie will formally join us in July, but she and her husband, Alex, will be on campus for a welcome reception on January 17 immediately following the faculty meeting. We will be in contact with more information about this reception in a few weeks.

I want to thank Tim Spurgin, who chaired the search, and the members of the search committee for this wonderful outcome. Search committee members included: Ameya Balsekar, Dominica Chang, Scott Corry, Samantha George, Pete Gilbert, Mark Jenike, Cathy Kautsky, Jenna Stone and Nancy Wall. They invested a significant amount of time and energy in the process. Also, thank you to the many members of our community who interviewed finalists this fall and to the Tenure, Promotion, Reappointment and Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, which met last week to consider Katie for a tenured position.

From the beginning, it was clearly a difficult task to find someone who had the temperament, experience, and love of the liberal arts to carry forward the very successful tenure of Dave Burrrows. I think we have found such a person and I am thankful to everyone involved. I am particularly grateful that Dave will remain at Lawrence as a professor of psychology after he steps down from the provost position.

I know you will all join me in welcoming Katie to Lawrence. I hope all of you are enjoying the break and that everyone has a wonderful holiday season.