Benton steps down as dean of College of Arts and Science

Benton will take sabbatical in 2018, and then continue in her faculty role as the a history professor and in her secondary appointment as a professor in the Law School

Dean Lauren Benton addresses first-year Arts and Science students at an assembly in Langford Auditorium Aug. 24 2015. \\John Russell/Vanderbilt

Effective Dec. 31, Dean Lauren Benton will step down as the dean of the College of Arts and Science. Provost Susan Wente will announce the appointment of an interim dean and the members of a national search committee for Benton’s replacement Jan. 8.

“I am grateful to Laurie for her leadership and service to the College of Arts and Science,” Wente said in a press release. “During her tenure, she brought many important changes and new initiatives to the college, all the while remaining a very active scholar. While I am disappointed to lose her services as dean, I am delighted she will continue making important academic contributions to the Vanderbilt community.”

Before continuing in her faculty role as the Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Professor of History and in her secondary appointment as a professor in the Law School, Benton will take sabbatical in 2018 to focus on her research.

“I’m deeply grateful to the exceptional faculty, staff and students in the College of Arts and Science with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work since joining Vanderbilt,” Benton said in the press release. “Together we accomplished a great deal in the past few years, and I look forward to continued and future collaboration and partnerships.”

Benton has been at Vanderbilt since July 2015, when she left her 10-year stint as a history professor and dean at NYU. According to the press release, she has helped the College of Arts and Science to receive several significant gifts and grants, led a successful, $1.5 million proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish the Center for Digital Humanities, and established a new administrative structure in Arts and Science.

Benton received her undergraduate degree in economics at Harvard University in 1978 and her doctorate in anthropology and history at Johns Hopkins. Now, her research focuses on comparative and world history. Recently, Benton was elected president of the American Society for Legal History. She has had several books published, including Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850 with Lisa Ford, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900, and Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900.