Arts & Sciences appoints two new senior associate deans

This fall, Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences, has named two new senior associate deans to join him on the college’s senior leadership team. Derk Pereboom, the Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy and Ethics and former chair of the Sage School of Philosophy, joined the Dean’s Office on September 1 as the Senior Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities, succeeding Marilyn Migiel ’75, professor of Romance Studies.  Dean Jayawardhana has also announced that Melissa Ferguson, professor and current chair of the Department of Psychology will succeed Ted O’Donoghue, the Zubrow Professor of Economics, as Senior Associate Dean for Social Sciences. Ferguson will begin her term on January 1, 2019.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Derk and Melissa to our team. Arts and Sciences will benefit tremendously from having such terrific scholars and astute faculty leaders at the helm,” said Dean Jayawardhana.

Pereboom’s portfolio includes departments and programs in the arts and humanities, the J.S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines, the Language Resource Center, the Society for the Humanities, and the College Scholar Program.

Ferguson will oversee core social science departments and interdisciplinary departments and work with a number of interdisciplinary programs including American Studies, Asian American Studies, FGSS, Latina/o Studies, LGBT Studies, the Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity, China & Asia Pacific Studies (CAPS), and the new Environment & Sustainability Program. 

Pereboom’s research focuses primarily on free will and the nature of mind. In his books Living without Free Will (Cambridge 2001) and Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life (Oxford 2014) Pereboom defends and develops Spinoza’s view that we lack the sort of free will at issue in the traditional debate, but that this does not threaten the most important features of morality and meaning in life, and has the potential to enhance social harmony. In Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism (Oxford 2011), he sets out and explores two options for naturalist accounts of consciousness, each inspired by ideas proposed by Kant. Pereboom is deeply committed to graduate and undergraduate education, and he is the recipient of several teaching awards.

Ferguson is an experimental social psychologist. She received her doctorate from New York University in 2002 and then joined the psychology department at Cornell. Her research focuses on the implicit cognitive processes that enable evaluation, goal-pursuit, self-control, and social behavior. Recent topics of research in her Implicit Social Cognition Lab include how we can change our memories, how we control our behavior, and how we express prejudice. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and her research has appeared in publications such as Psychological Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her research is regularly covered in major media outlets, with recent coverage in Time, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker and Newsweek.

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 Headshots of Derk Pereboom and Melissa Ferguson