Stanford Psychology Professor Claude M. Steele Appointed Columbia University’s Next Provost

May 13, 2009Bookmark and Share

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger today announced his appointment of Claude M. Steele as the University’s 21st provost, effective Sept. 1.

Steele comes to Columbia from Stanford University, where he has served as a professor of psychology since 1991, leading the department as chair from 1997 to 2000. He is currently the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences and director of Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Steele succeeds historian Alan Brinkley, Columbia’s current provost, who will take a year-long academic leave before returning to full-time teaching and research.
 
Claude M. Steele
Claude M. Steele
“Having earned the admiration of students and colleagues for his excellence as a teacher, researcher and department chair, Dr. Steele is an ideal choice to succeed Provost Alan Brinkley, whom I thank again for his tremendous contribution to the University,” said Bollinger. “Dr. Steele is a friend and colleague to many in the Columbia community, and it is a great moment to be able to welcome him here.”
 
A respected scholar and academic administrator, Steele has conducted a wide range of groundbreaking research in the field of social psychology, including such issues as self-identity, group stereotypes and addictive behaviors. In addition to directing Stanford’s behavioral sciences center, he has served as president of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, president of the Western Psychological Association, and a member of the board of directors of the American Psychological Society. He has also been an active member of the Stanford community through his service on its Faculty Senate and Board of Trustees Development Committee.
 
“Columbia has long had a unique place in higher education and the University has built remarkable momentum in recent years,” said Steele. “As I considered the deepening excellence of its students, faculty and administrative leadership, this seemed like a wonderful opportunity to work with a new group of accomplished colleagues on the important missions of teaching, research, patient care and public service in an increasingly diverse and global society.” 
 
Steele has published widely in academic journals and has worked to translate his findings into practical applications in such public policy challenges as alcohol and substance abuse and addiction, juvenile delinquency, academic performance and employment opportunity.
 
“Claude is one of the leading scholars in our field whose transformational research has played a unique role in making social psychology relevant to public ideas about the impact of stereotypes on educational achievement,” said Geraldine Downey, a Columbia professor of psychology. “He is an inspiring scientist to his colleagues and a wonderful mentor to students. To put it simply, Claude Steele will be an awesome addition to our department, and to the Columbia community as a whole.”
 
Steele holds memberships in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Education. He is the winner of numerous awards, including the Senior Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, each from the American Psychological Association.
 
“Though I had long respected Claude as a scholar, not until I joined the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences Board of Trustees did I see his administrative finesse in action, and under tough conditions,” said Kenneth Prewitt, Columbia’s Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs and vice president for global centers. “On every dimension, this is a great choice for Columbia and continues a long tradition of exceptional provosts.”
 
Having received his bachelor’s degree from Hiram College, Steele earned his master's and doctorate from The Ohio State University. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Michigan, University of Washington and the University of Utah, and earned honorary degrees from the University of Chicago, Yale and Princeton.
 
“Claude Steele is that rarest of breeds—not only a brilliant scholar and a leading figure in the field of psychology, but also a magnificent administrator, as he’s demonstrated in his years as a department chairman and research center director,” said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. “This is a stunningly brilliant choice for both Columbia and for Claude, as well as an exciting and historic moment for the American academy.”
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