Martha Roth reappointed to second term as dean of Humanities

Martha T. Roth, the Chauncey S. Boucher Distinguished Service Professor of Assyriology, has been appointed to a second five-year term as dean of the Humanities Division, President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum announced. The term begins July 1.

In their message to Humanities faculty, Zimmer and Rosenbaum underscored the University’s “absolute commitment to humanistic discourse, research and education,” citing among Roth’s accomplishments in her first term the re-conceptualization of the Center for Jewish Studies, the creation of the Indian Ministry of Culture Vivekananda Visiting Professorship and growing leadership in digital humanities.

During that period, the Humanities faculty grew by 12 percent, including the appointment of two University Professors: Augusta Read Thomas in Music and the College, and Haun Saussy in Comparative Literature and the College. Four Neubauer Family Assistant Professors also joined the division’s faculty.

“The Humanities Division has grown considerably over the last five years, and in filling this position, we were acutely aware of the need for a leader who would work with the faculty of the Division to refine the intellectual and educational directions of the Division for the future, and together with the other deans, the provost, and the president, help build and fulfill the highest aspirations of the University,” Zimmer and Rosenbaum wrote.

“It is an honor to serve as dean of the Division of the Humanities at this visionary institution,” Roth said. “Throughout the University, our work is supported and advanced by the administration and staff at every level, by the dedicated faculty, and by the outstanding students. I look forward to working with my colleagues during my next term to keep our culture of rigorous inquiry, scholarly debate, and inspiring pedagogy alive and vibrant.”

In a separate message to the Humanities faculty, Roth announced the creation of two new deputy dean positions, providing additional academic leadership in the division as it embarks on several ambitious initiatives. Bill Brown (English and Visual Arts) has been appointed deputy dean for academic and research initiatives; Mario Santana (Romance Languages and Literatures) has been appointed deputy dean for languages. They will join Thomas Christensen (Music), whose reappointment as master of the Humanities Collegiate Division was announced last year by John Boyer and Roth.

Roth earned her bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University and her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania before coming to UChicago as a research associate in 1979 and joining the faculty in 1980.

Roth worked for more than three decades on the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, the last 15 years as editor-in-charge, shepherding the massive, 90-year project to conclusion. In its first two months after the June 2011 news of its completion, more than 100,000 downloads were made of the dictionary from the Oriental Institute website.

Among her publications is Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, a comprehensive collection and translation of Mesopotamian laws, including the famous laws of King Hammurabi of Babylon. Roth received many fellowships and grants, including awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Roth previously served as deputy provost, coordinating the Graduate Aid Initiative to increase support for graduate students in the Humanities and Social Sciences divisions. She coordinated the University’s participation in the National Research Council’s assessment of doctorate programs, and represented the Provost’s office on the Library Board, the University Press and the Graham School.