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NYU Appoints Roger Bagnall As First Director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

April 5, 2007
N-392, 2006-07

Renowned scholar Roger Bagnall was named today, by NYU President John Sexton and Provost David McLaughlin, as the first director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. The creation of the Institute, a center for advanced studies and doctoral education that was funded by a $200-million gift from the Leon Levy Foundation, was announced by the University in March 2006. Bagnall will assume the directorship as of July 1, 2007, subject to the normal University academic review processes.

Professor Bagnall comes to the post from Columbia University, where he has appointments in both the Department of History and the Department of Classics. He is the Jay Professor of Greek and Latin Languages, a world-renowned papyrologist, the former graduate dean, and the former chair of the Classics Department.

The Institute is housed in its own facility, a beautiful, 27,000-square-foot townhouse at 15 East 84th Street acquired by the Leon Levy Foundation in 2004. The Institute is expected to hire faculty beginning in the 2007-08 academic year, and to begin admitting students for fall of 2009.

President Sexton, said, “The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World will undertake a new and revolutionary approach to the study of antiquity, crossing geographic boundaries and cultures. Finding a scholar who could launch the Institute on this mission would be no easy task: it would require a person who has a superb disciplinary foundation but who is also driven by intellectual curiosity to cross disciplinary boundaries, a scholar known both for academic rigor and a broad scope of inquiry and imagination. In Roger Bagnall, we have found the ideal person. A renowned classical scholar, a papyrologist, a leader in his field and at his university, he is the perfect person to be the first director of the Institute, and we are very pleased he has accepted this appointment.

“I would like to thank the members of the search committee, so ably led by Daniel Fleming, Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, for their efforts; the committee’s hard work, wisdom, and discernment have ensured an outstanding start for the Institute. I would also like to again thank Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation for their generosity and their faith in NYU as the correct partner for this wonderful undertaking.”

Shelby White said, “I am delighted. Roger Bagnall’s appointment ensures that the vision Leon and I had in creating an institute to change the way we study the ancient world will be realized.”

David McLaughlin, NYU’s Provost, said, “It is relatively rare to be present at the embarkation of an intellectual and academic enterprise as adventurous and exciting as this one. In its new approach to these most classic of academic disciplines, the Institute holds the prospect of re-writing the manner in which the ancient world is to be studied. But such a novel approach would not be respected if it were not undertaken by scholars of outstanding reputation and achievement, such as Roger Bagnall. I am very grateful he has accepted this appointment, I look forward to welcoming him as a faculty colleague, and I know that he will recruit a superb group of colleagues and doctoral students to the Institute.”

Professor Bagnall said, “The Institute offers a unique opportunity to pursue the study of antiquity in an environment where the boundaries of disciplines, regions, and linguistic communities are not allowed to obscure relationships and continuities. Building a faculty and student body to realize this vision will be extraordinarily challenging and fascinating. I am grateful to the university, the foundation, and the search committee for offering me and the entire community of ancient studies the possibility of doing something so stimulating.”

The members of the search committee, which was led by Professor Fleming were:

  • Glen Bowersock, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History, Institute for Advanced Study
  • David O’Connor, Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
  • Holly Pittman, College of Women Class of 1963 Endowed Term Chair in the Humanities, Professor of the History of Art, and Curator of the Near East Section of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
  • Wu Hung, Harrie H.Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College, and Director, Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago
  • Shelby White, Chair, Shelby White- Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications, The Semitic Museum, Harvard University; and Trustee, The Leon Levy Foundation (non-voting)
  • Paul Zanker, Istituto Archeologico Germanico

Roger Bagnall is currently the Jay Professor of Greek and Latin Languages and Professor of History at Columbia University. He first came to Columbia as an assistant professor of Greek and Latin in 1974 after his education at Yale and the University of Toronto; he was promoted to associate professor of classics and history in 1979, and to professor in 1983. He was the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from 1989-1993, deputy vice president for Arts and Sciences from 1992-1993, and chair of the Classics Department from 1994-2000.

Bagnall has published extensively. His many books and articles include: Egypt in Late Antiquity (Princeton 1993); The Demography of Roman Egypt (Cambridge 1994, with Bruce Frier); Reading Papyri, Writing Ancient History (London 1995); and The Hellenistic Period: Historic Sources in Translation (Oxford 2004, with P.S. Derow). His articles range over the social, economic, administrative, religious, and cultural history of Graeco-Roman Egypt and the late antique world. Two collections of them have been published in the Variorum reprint series. He is currently director of Columbia’s archaeological project at Amheida, in the Dakhla Oasis of Egypt.

He is the recipient of many honors and awards. As an undergraduate at Yale, he was named a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Scholar of the House. He has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial foundation; he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British Academy, and a member of the Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres, et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique and the American Philosophical Society. He has been the J.H. Gray Lecturer at Cambridge University, the 92nd Sather Professor of Classical Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, and the recipient of a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Among his many professional affiliations, he was: president of the American Society of Papyrologists from 1993-1997; secretary-treasurer of the American Philological Association from 1979-1985 and a member of the Board of Directors from 1988-1991; and a member of the editorial board of the American Journal of Archaeology from 1998-2004. He is currently serving on the boards of the American Numismatic Society and Wells College.

Professor Bagnall received is B.A. from Yale summa cum laude in 1968. He received his M.A. and his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1969 and 1972, respectively.


About the Leon Levy Foundation
The Leon Levy Foundation, founded in 2004, is a private, not-for-profit foundation created from the estate of Leon Levy, a legendary investor with a long-standing commitment to philanthropy. The Foundation’s overarching goal is to continue the tradition of humanism characteristic of Mr. Levy by supporting scholarship at the highest level.

About NYU
New York University is located in the heart of Greenwich Village. Founded in 1831, NYU is this year celebrating its 175th anniversary. It is one of America’s leading research universities and a member of the selective Association of American Universities. It is one of the largest private universities, it is a leader in attracting international students and scholars in the U.S, and it sends more students to study abroad than any other U.S. college or university. Through its 14 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and performing arts, music, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: John Beckman | (212) 998-6848


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