Tara Zahra named Roman Family Director of Neubauer Collegium

Prof. Tara Zahra has been appointed the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, Provost Ka Yee C. Lee announced. Zahra, the Homer J. Livingston Professor of East European History, will assume the role on July 1.

“Tara is an exemplary scholar whose broad research interests closely align with the Neubauer Collegium’s goal of fostering an environment in which new forms of thinking emerge and thrive,” Lee said. “Her leadership will help advance the innovative work of the Neubauer Collegium well into the future.”

A leading scholar of the history of modern Europe, Zahra focuses her research and teaching on Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th century. She has written extensively on the history of migration and refugees, nationalism, globalization, and the family, and has done research in German, Czech, Italian, French, and Polish archives. Zahra is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She studied at the University of Michigan and Swarthmore College.

Zahra has been active as a member of the Neubauer Collegium Faculty Board; co-chair of the Faculty Board of the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights; a member of the Executive Committee of the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies; a faculty affiliate of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality; a member of the Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies; and a member of the Franke Institute Governing Board.

In assuming this role, Zahra will succeed Jonathan Lear, the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, Philosophy, and in the College, who has led the Neubauer Collegium since 2014.

“Jonathan Lear has been a remarkable and insightful director for the Neubauer Collegium, making it a hub for our scholarly community and the birthplace of some of the most creative work on our campus and beyond,” said Amanda Woodward, dean of the Division of the Social Sciences and the William S. Gray Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology. “Tara Zahra brings outstanding intellectual breadth and energy to the project of leading the Neubauer Collegium into the next phase of its life. I very much look forward to working with her and to seeing the Collegium flourish under her leadership.”

Established in 2012, the Neubauer Collegium explores new possibilities for humanistic research. To date, it has supported 117 faculty research projects that aim to address and solve complex challenges. In recent years, it has attracted leading thinkers from around the world to collaborate with the University community, including 70 visiting fellows from 20 countries and more than 300 short-term visitors. The Roman Family Director’s Lecture series, which draws renowned intellectuals, artists and practitioners to engage with the public, has featured distinguished guests including J. M. Coetzee, Marilynne Robinson, Charles Taylor and Anne Case. 

“It’s a tremendous honor to have this opportunity,” Zahra said of her appointment. “The Neubauer Collegium plays a unique role on campus and beyond by supporting imaginative collaborative research between University of Chicago faculty across campus, and with outstanding scholars, practitioners and artists around the world. I’m very excited to work with colleagues to build on the very strong foundation established by my predecessors.”