Date: August 26, 2020
TO: The FAS Community
FROM: Andrew Hamilton, President; Katherine Fleming, Provost

As faculty member and dean, Phil Harper has been a great champion of the humanities and of graduate education. Higher inquiry requires energetic new scholarship and fresh ideas to advance; Phil has long recognized this, and it has made him a forceful advocate for graduate students and for improving the graduate student experience at NYU. He is a valued member of the University’s leadership team, a respected and well-liked colleague, and a highly regarded scholar.

So, when Phil informed us of his new appointment at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we received the news with a mix of feelings: regret for NYU, happiness and pride for him, and respect for Mellon’s flair for spotting talent. He takes up his position at Mellon as Program Director for Higher Learning on October 1.

Phil’s deanship has been marked by many achievements. He implemented GSAS’s first fully online degree; he rationalized the allocation of doctoral fellowship funds across departments; secured $1.5 million to help prepare PhD students for a broad range of careers within and beyond academia; created a new position to coordinate professional development efforts for PhD students; advanced efforts to reduce time-to-degree and to increase diversity; established permanent funding to train science PhDs to communicate effectively about their research; secured a $5.75 million gift to promote the production of high-quality narrative non-fiction with GSAS and more broadly in American letters.

All his work was in service of those things in which he believes most strongly: improving graduate education at NYU, enhancing outcomes for graduate students, and strengthening the humanities. And in his new position at Mellon, he will be able to do even more, pursuing these goals on a national level.

We will write again soon about finding a successor for Phil. For now, please join us in congratulating Phil on his new appointment, and thanking him for all his service to NYU. We shall miss his humor, his kindness, his comradeship, and his many contributions to university life, but are glad to know he will be bringing these attributes and his belief in the humanities and doctoral education to a position where he can effect national change.