Dianne S. Harris, dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Utah, has accepted a new position as senior program officer in higher education and scholarship in the humanities with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Harris will join the foundation on Nov. 1, 2017.

“I have loved serving as dean at the University of Utah, working with our fabulous faculty, staff and students,” said Harris. “This is a truly wonderful university, and we will be sad to leave. My husband and I have really enjoyed our time here in Salt Lake City, one of the most welcoming and beautiful cities on earth. This job at the Mellon Foundation is an opportunity to have a positive impact on the humanities in higher education at an unparalleled scale, and it is just tremendously exciting. Nothing else could have tempted me away. I’m profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have worked here.”

Harris has been dean and history professor at the U since 2015. During her tenure, she placed particular emphasis on creating and strengthening pipelines to the College of Humanities for community college transfer students and high school students, especially for first-generation and underrepresented groups, supporting student success through the inauguration of pilot cohort programs such as “Humanities Scholars” and collaborating on the creation of the recently launched Digital Matters Lab with the U’s Marriott Library. She also prioritized further raising the visibility of the college and the humanities locally and nationally and helped recruit an outstanding and diverse group of assistant professors to the university.

“During her tenure as dean, Dianne has led efforts to enhance scholarship, strengthen faculty diversity and implement innovative educational programs,” said Ruth Watkins, senior vice president of Academic Affairs at the U. “She is a remarkable partner and collaborator, who will be greatly missed. We look forward to opportunities to work with her in her new role with Mellon.”

As a senior program officer at the Mellon Foundation, Harris will work on a range of grants and research initiatives supporting undergraduate and doctoral education, advanced scholarship and the public humanities.

“We are thrilled that someone of Dianne’s stature and experience has elected to pivot from her current role as an academic leader to join us here at the Mellon Foundation,” said Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President Earl Lewis. “She is an accomplished scholar, proven administrator and overall student of the humanities and higher education. She will greatly enrich the work we have underway and inform the work we have yet to plan.”

Harris has been the principal investigator for several grants from Mellon Foundation, including a grant to create the “Humanities Without Walls,” a consortium of humanities centers at 15 research-extensive universities throughout the Midwest and beyond — an unprecedented experiment in cross-institutional collaboration in the humanities and arts.

“Joining the Mellon Foundation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support the humanities in higher education, and at a time when doing so feels especially urgent. I’m profoundly grateful for the opportunity to join the foundation, and I look forward to supporting their important work in the United States and beyond,” added Harris.

Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.


Media Contacts

Jana Cunninghamcommunications director, College of Humanities
Office: 801-213-0866