Deputy Provost Roth to lead Humanities Div.

By Frank Lin

Martha Roth, one of the world’s leading specialists on ancient Mesopotamian languages and Editor-In-Charge of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, will become dean of the University’s Humanities Division beginning July 1. She will succeed Danielle Allen, who has served as dean of the Humanities since 2004.

“Martha has brought incredible energy, confident leadership and sound judgment to her role as Deputy Provost, characteristics that will serve the Humanities Division and the University well in her new position as dean,” President Robert Zimmer and Provost Thomas Rosenbaum wrote in a statement to the University’s deans and officers.

Roth, a professor of Assyriology in the Oriental Institute and the College, has served as deputy provost of the University since 2004. Roth coordinated the University’s initiative to increase graduate student aid in the University’s Humanities and Social Sciences divisions, according to the University of Chicago Chronicle.

In her role as deputy provost, Roth has represented the provost’s office on the boards of the Library, the University Press, and the Graham School of General Studies, and has served as the liaison between the provost’s office and both the Office of the Vice President and the Office of the Dean of Students.

“I am honored to have been selected by the search committee and by President Zimmer and Provost Rosenbaum to serve the Division of the Humanities as dean,” Roth said.

Roth has served as Editor-In-Charge of the 26-volume Chicago Assyrian Dictionary since 1996. In 2005, she (along with Jennie Myers and Walter Farber of the Oriental Institute) organized an international conference on Assyriology that drew over 300 scholars.

Roth’s main area of expertise is the legal and social history of the ancient Near East, according to her University website. Roth’s primary interests include family law, women’s legal and social issues, and the compilation and transmission of laws. She is currently working on a project on Mesopotamian law cases.

Danielle Allen, the current dean of the Humanities, is leaving the University to take a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.

“I have received an unusual opportunity to focus on my own research and scholarship and so have accepted appointment as the UPS Foundation Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton,” Allen said in an e-mail interview. “This was a difficult decision and it is with real regret that I decided to step down from the deanship, but I do have a lot that I would like to write.”

Allen was the first recipient of the MacArthur “genius” grant to serve as a dean of the University.

“Over the last three years, Danielle has distinguished herself as a tireless advocate for the humanities,” Zimmer said in his statement. “She has supported academic expansions ranging from collaborative interdivisional initiatives to the infusion of the arts into the University’s curriculum and intellectual agenda.”

According to Rosenbaum, Allen’s accomplishments as dean of the Humanities included “the promotion and planning of the new Center for Creative and Performing Arts.”

“Martha Roth’s commitment to the University is great, her knowledge and experience of it is broad, and she will continue to ensure that the University of Chicago Humanities Division sets the standard for excellent scholarship and teaching in the humanities,” Allen said.

Roth graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 1974 with a B.A. in Near Eastern Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Oriental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979.

“I look forward to working together with the faculty to maintain and enhance our strong intellectual traditions and to support our initiatives in research and teaching,” Roth said.