FAS Humanities Dean Lofton will return to teaching and research in 2024
Kathryn Lofton, a groundbreaking scholar of religion in American history who has served as dean of humanities for Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) since 2019, will return to full-time teaching and research in the FAS on July 1, 2024, FAS Dean Tamar Gendler announced in a message to the FAS community.
Lofton, who is the Lex Hixon Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies and professor of history and divinity at Yale, was appointed to a five-year term as dean of the humanities division in 2020 after serving as acting dean during the 2019-2020 academic year.
Since earning tenure in 2013, she has served numerous leadership roles in the FAS. She was the inaugural deputy dean of diversity and faculty development in the FAS from 2016 to 2018; she was a member of the first elected class of the FAS Senate; chaired the University-Wide Ad Hoc Committee on Procedures for Resolving Complaints of Faculty Misconduct; and served as chair of LGBT Studies, the Program in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the Department of Religious Studies. Last spring, she served as acting dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
During the last 10 years, the humanities division has strengthened considerably as search, promotion, recruitment, and retention processes have become increasingly equitable and transparent, Gendler wrote in her message. Lofton, followed by Larry Gladney in the role of dean of diversity and faculty development, supported and fostered these ambitions by collaborating with academic units on how to innovate excellence and sustain best practices, she said.
“Every academic unit in the Humanities has recruited new faculty, reflected on its governance, and strengthened its commitment to transformational hiring, curriculum, and research,” Gendler wrote. “Due to faculty effort across ranks, the division stands among the foremost gatherings of humanities faculty in the world.”
During Lofton’s tenure as FAS dean of humanities, Yale relocated 18 units within the humanities division to the redesigned and renovated Humanities Quadrangle, formerly known as the Hall of Graduate Studies. The Instructional Faculty Working Group, which released its report in April 2023, advanced changes to the practices that recognize the magnitude of the contributions of instructional faculty across the FAS. The report of the Humanities Doctoral Education Advisory Working Group, published in 2021, outlined a vision for humanities graduate education that engages the current challenges faced by Yale’s humanities Ph.D. students. And increased oversight for faculty misconduct was introduced in 2017 through a faculty-driven process.
“These interventions reflect a vision of the FAS as a community where we hold one another to high ethical standards, and where those high standards make it possible for all members of our community to flourish in their pursuit of intellectual work,” Gendler said.
In her scholarship and teaching, Lofton has examined the relationship between religion and consumer capitalism, explored the history of Protestant modernism and fundamentalism, and probed how the history of religion in America interacts with popular culture, corporations, race, and gender.
“Katie is a brilliant thinker, a generous and collaborative colleague, and a tireless advocate for faculty leadership,” Gendler wrote in her message. “Throughout her deanship, she continued to teach courses and mentor graduate and undergraduate students. Her commitment to teaching as an essential practice of the liberal arts is manifest in projects and challenges that she undertook as Dean.
“She also continued to reflect on the scholarly questions that motivate her return to the faculty, authoring essays on secularism, research methodologies, and religion in popular culture. The Humanities — and, indeed, Yale as a whole — is stronger thanks to the integrity and vision with which she approaches her work as Dean and faculty member.”
In the coming weeks Gendler will appoint a faculty committee to advise her on appointing a successor to Lofton as dean of the humanities.