Amanda Woodward named dean of the Division of the Social Sciences

Amanda Woodward, the William S. Gray Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology, has been appointed dean of the Division of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago.

Woodward, a leading scholar in the social development of infants and young children, has been serving as interim dean of the Division since July 2017. Her appointment as dean of the Division is effective April 4.

“Amanda has provided vital leadership, sustaining the momentum of the Division of the Social Sciences. We are confident that she will be an excellent leader for the Division in the years to come,” wrote President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Daniel Diermeier in announcing her appointment.

Woodward in her research has pioneered the development of experimental methods to investigate social cognition in infants and young children. Her work has produced fundamental insights into infants’ social understanding and the processes that support conceptual development early in life. Her current research includes investigating the effects of culture and community in shaping children’s social learning strategies and the neural processes involved in early social-cognitive development.

“It is an honor to lead such an extraordinary community of scholars. I look forward to working together in many areas of research and an array of educational endeavors with faculty, students and staff to advance the social sciences at the University,” Woodward said.

Woodward has been a member of the University faculty since 1993. She was a founding member of the Center for Early Childhood Research and has served as director of the Infant Learning and Development Laboratory as well as chair of the Department of Psychology and deputy dean of faculty affairs for the Division.

Woodward was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014. Her research has been recognized by such awards as the Ann L. Brown Award for Excellence in Developmental Research, the American Psychological Association Boyd McCandless Award for an Early Career Contribution to Developmental Psychology and the John Merck Scholars Award. Woodward received her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and her doctoral degree from Stanford University.

Woodward succeeds David Nirenberg, the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Distinguished Service Professor of Social Thought, History, and Romance Languages, who serves as executive vice provost at the University.

The selection of the new dean by Zimmer and Diermeier was informed by the recommendations of an elected faculty committee chaired by Kenneth Pomeranz, University Professor in the Department of History and the College.