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Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Gretchen Ritter '83 joined Cornell in August 2013 as the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences and professor of government. A third-generation Cornellian, she is the College's first female dean. She previously served as vice provost and professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. She has also taught at MIT, Princeton and Harvard.
Dean Ritter received her B.A. in government from Cornell and a Ph.D. in political science from MIT. She has written numerous articles and essays, authored "The Constitution as Social Design: Gender and Civic Membership in the American Constitutional Order" and "Goldbugs and Greenbacks: The Antimonopoly Tradition and the Politics of Finance in America, 1865–1896," and co-edited "Democratization in America: A Comparative and Historical Perspective."
In recent years, her research has taken two tracks. She continues her work on the history of women's Constitutional rights as well as studies on contemporary issues concerning democracy and citizenship in American politics. In the context of her administrative roles at UT Austin and Cornell, Dean Ritter has contributed to research on efforts to reduce college achievement gaps that include intervention strategies and the exploration of new learning models in higher education.
At Cornell, Dean Ritter has emphasized a renewed commitment to undergraduate education that embraces engaged learning models and incorporates emerging technologies and experiential learning. Large-scale course redesign efforts are already underway in physics and biology. She has also prioritized efforts to improve both external and internal communications, and she has overseen the most successful annual fund in the history of the College of Arts & Sciences.
She is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, including a National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship, the Radcliffe Research Partnership Award, a Liberal Arts Fellowship at Harvard Law School and an Outstanding Administrators Award from the Academic Counselors Association.