As Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Dianne Harris is primarily responsible for establishing and implementing a vision and strategic priorities for the College, and for stewardship of the College’s resources. Keeping the University of Washington’s mission at the center of her work, Harris’s role includes providing leadership and guidance for undergraduate and graduate education, a research enterprise that averages $120 million annually, fundraising for the College, and supporting infrastructure throughout the College. Harris is privileged to work daily to ensure that students, staff, and faculty throughout the College can thrive and succeed.
A professor of history, Harris began her appointment as dean on September 1, 2021. She was previously a senior program officer with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Higher Learning program and was dean of the College of Humanities and professor of history at the University of Utah.
Throughout her career, Harris has been a tireless supporter of the humanities. At the University of Utah, Harris substantially increased the number of underrepresented tenure-line faculty and generated retention-oriented programs; raised the research profile of the college; supported the creation of a digital humanities center; and supported a number of undergraduate student success initiatives. As a principal investigator for many grants, she has fostered interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation in the humanities, including creating the “Humanities Without Walls” consortium, which includes support for cross-institutional research collaboration, and an innovative program of summer workshops for pre-doctoral students in the humanities who wish to seek careers outside the academy.
Harris earned her Ph.D. in architecture/history of architecture, master’s degree in architecture, and bachelor’s degree with a major in landscape architecture, all at the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarship, which has a broad temporal and geographic reach spanning from 18th-century Lombardy to the postwar United States, is united by a sustained focus on the relationship between the built environment and the construction of racial and class identities. An interdisciplinary scholar whose work focuses on visual and material culture as well as histories of the built environment, Harris is particularly well-known for her scholarly contributions to the study of race and space. In addition to her many essays and scholarly articles, she is the sole author of three monographs, editor of an additional three volumes, and a series editor for the University of Pittsburgh Press.