Smith College Names Michael Thurston Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Michael Thurston—the Helen Means Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College—has been named the college’s next provost and dean of the faculty. President Kathleen McCartney announced the appointment in an email to the campus community earlier today.

Thurston will begin his new role on July 1, 2019.

“A model scholar with a deep commitment to inclusivity, Michael Thurston impressed me and the search committee as a deep and creative thinker about the future of the liberal arts,” McCartney said. “I look forward to partnering with him in this work and in many important initiatives—such as the renovation of Neilson Library, the improvement of our teaching spaces, curricular innovations and the renewal of the faculty—that are critical to the academic distinction of Smith College.”

A member of the Smith faculty since 2000, Thurston is an authority on American literature and American studies, with a primary research interest in modern and contemporary poetry. The author of numerous essays and reviews, he also has authored, co-authored or edited four books: Reading Postwar British and Irish Poetry (with Nigel Alderman); The Underworld in Twentieth-Century Poetry: From Pound and Eliot to Heaney and Walcott; Making Something Happen: American Political Poetry between the World Wars; and Modernism, Inc.: Body, Capital, Memory (with Jani Scandura).

Thurston is a dedicated teacher who received Smith’s Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching in 2010.

Thurston has contributed substantially to faculty governance at Smith. He has served as chair of Faculty Council, and he currently serves on the Committee on Tenure and Promotion. He has directed the American Studies Program and is currently chairing the English department.

Thurston received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas and his graduate degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Thurston succeeds Katherine Rowe, who served as provost and dean of the faculty from 2014 to earlier this year, when she became president of the College of William and Mary. Joe O’Rourke—the college’s Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Professor of Computer Science and professor of mathematics and statistics—will continue to serve as interim provost and dean of the faculty until the close of this academic year.