Nobles named dean of SHASS

Poli-Sci prof researched race

Melissa Nobles is the new dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), effective July 1.

Nobles has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1995 and has served as head of MIT’s political science department since 2015.

“Professor Nobles offers us a vision of the humanities, arts, and social sciences as the human stage on which our scientific and technical solutions have purpose and meaning,” President L. Rafael Reif said. “We are fortunate that she will bring to the deanship such an expansive worldview.”

As a professor of political science, Nobles researched questions of racial and ethnic politics and retrospective justice; as head of the Political Science Department she supported the development of MIT Gov/Lab, a research group focusing on citizen engagement and government accountability.

“I think SHASS is so important because nearly all the rest of the endeavors at which the Institute so excels — science, engineering, business, and architecture — all exist within a social, political, cultural, and economic context, and that’s precisely where SHASS lives,” Nobles told MIT News.

Nobles succeeds Deborah Fitzgerald, who served as dean since 2006. SHASS consists of 11 departments, including Literature; Economics; History; Political Science; Philosophy; Linguistics; Anthropology; Comparative Media Studies/Writing; Global Studies and Languages; Science, Technology, and Society; and Music.

Andrea Campbell succeeds Nobles as head of the Political Science Department.