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Professor Danielle Allen Is First Black Woman to Earn This Honor from Harvard

Danielle Allen (Wikipedia Commons)

Danielle Allen (Wikipedia Commons)

Danielle Allen, a political scientist, classicist and professor at Harvard University, is the first Black woman honored as a University Professor.

The Harvard Gazette reported Allen’s title of James Bryant Conant University Professor is set to start Jan. 1. It is the highest honor for faculty at the Ivy League college and it’s designed “to honor individuals whose groundbreaking work crosses the boundaries of multiple disciplines,” the school website said.

For Allen, the appointment will add to her already lengthy list of accomplishments, including her “genius” specification stemming from her 2001 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

“I’m deeply honored,” said Allen, who is a Government Department professor and also instructs in Havard’s graduate school. “It’s especially wonderful to be invited to hold a chair named after a field-changing academic leader and dedicated to supporting work that connects matters of civic character and education. The university has so many outstanding resources on these fronts. I’m grateful for the chance to connect all across campus.”

Allen’s other professional accolades include becoming a Marshall Scholar at King’s College, and receiving two degrees from Harvard — a master’s in art in 1998 and a Ph.D. three years later. While teaching political science and classics at the University of Chicago, Allen also became the dean of Division of Humanities. She left the Illinois school in 2007 to serve as the UPS Foundation Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University in New Jersey. Allen’s stint at Harvard began last year, at which time she also became the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

“Danielle Allen is one of the most distinguished and creative scholars of her generation,” university President Drew Faust told the school newspaper. “Her interests bridge an extraordinary range of fields, her ideas illuminate new avenues of scholarship and education, and her influence extends across the academy and well beyond.”

Allen will join 24 other Harvard University professors, according to Harvard’s website. Literary critic Henry Louis Gates and sociologist William Julius Wilson are counted among them.

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