Smith College Appoints Katherine Rowe as Provost and Dean of Faculty

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — Smith College President Kathleen McCartney has appointed Katherine Anandi Rowe, a scholar of Renaissance literature and media history and a leader in digital humanities initiatives, as provost and dean of faculty, effective July 1.

Rowe is a 16-year member of the English faculty at Bryn Mawr College, where she has helped lead curricular innovation and directs the college’s Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center for leadership and public engagement.

At Smith, Rowe succeeds Marilyn Schuster, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and the Study of Women and Gender, who has served as provost since 2009.

“Katherine Rowe is a dynamic, creative, forward-thinking scholar-teacher with a deep commitment to the education of women,“ McCartney said. “She is a thought leader in exploring new forms of scholarship and a deep believer in the power of innovation to extend the reach and impact of the liberal arts.”

Colleagues describe Rowe as having “intellectual firepower,” McCartney noted, as well as the ability to engage diverse and interdisciplinary audiences through her scholarship and teaching. The New York Times counted her among “a small vanguard of digitally adept scholars [who are] rethinking how knowledge is understood and judged…”

During her tenure at Bryn Mawr, Rowe has been individually or collaboratively responsible for more than $900,000 in grant funding. She is the author and co-author of more than 30 articles and essays as well as three books, the latest of which is New Wave Shakespeare on Screen. Rowe is a co-founder of Luminary Digital Media, a social reading platform that is bringing the works of the Folger Shakespeare Library to mobile devices.

“I am honored and thrilled to be joining a faculty that takes interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship as seriously as Smith does,” Rowe said.

Citing such initiatives as Smith’s Picker Engineering Program and Ada Comstock Scholars Program for nontraditional students, Rowe said, “Smith is a place that has made measured, bold plays over the course of its history, a remarkable combination in higher education.”

Rowe holds degrees in English and American literature from Carleton College (B.A.) and Harvard University (M.A., Ph.D.). Later, she pursued a professional interest in cinema and media studies through graduate coursework at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She began her academic career at Yale University.

Soon after joining the faculty at Bryn Mawr, Rowe was appointed to direct a three-college project, funded by the Mellon Foundation, to address challenges faced by liberal arts faculty at different stages of their careers. Later, she directed a digital humanities initiative involving Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges that launched the first undergraduate research conference in this emerging field. She has served on college committees addressing academic priorities, institutional governance, international initiatives, libraries, and effective pedagogy for non-native English speakers. In addition, she has contributed to the college’s visibility and positioning initiatives, development, and alumnae relations.

Outside of her teaching and scholarship, Rowe plays and coaches Ultimate Frisbee; she led the Lower Merion (Pa.) High School Girls Ultimate team to state championships in 2009, 2010 and 2013. She and her husband, Bruce Jacobson, have a son, Daniel, who is a student at Brown, and a daughter, Beah, who is a student at Yale.

Rowe counts three Smith alumnae among her family members: Judy Davis, class of 1970; Frances Potter, class of 1950; and Jean Dickinson, class of 1919.

Founded in 1871, Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction and links the power of the liberal arts to excellence in research and scholarship, developing leaders for society’s challenges. The rigorous academic program—anchored in the sciences, the humanities and the arts—is demanding yet flexible, with more than a thousand course offerings in more than 50 areas of study. A host of study abroad programs, the first engineering program offered at a women’s college and a growing roster of “concentrations,” which allow students to organize unique combinations of intellectual and practical experiences, are signature offerings of the college. The largest women’s liberal arts college in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,600 students from nearly every state and 62 other countries.