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Linda Bell appointed Provost of Barnard College

This October, Professor of Economics and Provost Linda Bell will begin her first term as Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Barnard College in New York.

Bell came to Haverford in 1992, and has since chaired the Department of Economics, won the Linbeck prize for distinguished teaching, and most recently, served as provost of the College. Before coming to Haverford, she held a number of visiting positions at elite colleges and was a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

For Bell the decision to accept another administrative role in lieu of teaching was not easy. “The students here are smart, interesting, engaged, politically aware…being around students provides any academic positive energy,” Bell said. She hopes, at some point, to pick up teaching again.

But she says the time is ripe, for both herself and the College, to move in a new direction. “It’s an exciting transition, and Barnard is an exciting institution,” Bell said. “It’s very compelling to be part of an all-women’s college that is also part of a research institution.”

As to whether this position is a step toward any broader career goals, Bell said she’s not thinking too far ahead. “When I first got here I wanted to change the world – but now I’m going small steps at a time,” Bell said.

For the next administration, Bell emphasizes the need to set goals within the scope of the College’s finances. “Small liberal arts colleges like Haverford need to be budget sensitive and budget aware, and design programs that are appropriate for the college,” Bell said. “That said, I think this institution should aspire to be a leading institution among liberal arts colleges.”

In her remaining months at Haverford, Bell is on sabbatical advancing her research on executive compensation and mentors for women professionals. She is also working with the Education Policy Committee, Interim Provost Kimberly Benston and interim President Joanne Creighton to redraft a vision of the College’s academic blueprint, as a “jumping off point” for the next administration.

As interim provost, Benston will smooth the transition until a new administration is set in stone. “He’s deeply respected by the faculty and he’s contributed enormously to the College,” Bell said. “He’s a solid choice.”

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