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Cornell names Isaac Kramnick as vice provost for undergraduate education

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Isaac Kramnick

Isaac Kramnick, a 30-year Cornell University faculty member who serves as the Richard J. Schwartz Professor and chair of the Department of Government, has been named vice provost for undergraduate education.

Announcing the appointment, effective July 1, Provost Biddy Martin said: "Professor Kramnick is a paragon among the distinguished faculty members who dedicate themselves to enhancing the undergraduate learning experience at Cornell. The leadership he will exercise as vice provost will make this campus an even more stimulating place for undergraduate students to live, study and thrive, as well as a more rewarding place for faculty members to teach."

The provost noted that Kramnick was one of the founding members of the Faculty Fellows and Faculty-in-Residence programs, two opportunities for teacher-student interactions that will be a vital part of the living-learning experience for freshmen on North Campus and upper-classmen on West Campus. He also has been a faculty leader in the University Committee on Restructuring West Campus Residential Life, Martin observed. She said that Kramnick, as vice provost, will continue to plan and coordinate academic programming for North and West campuses while assuming responsibility for other university priorities in undergraduate education. Those priorities include, but are not limited to, undergraduate research opportunities, improvements in advising, curricular coordination across colleges and greater emphasis on the art and practice of teaching.

Kramnick will relinquish his department chairmanship, he said, but will continue his professorial duties by teaching, in alternate academic years, two of his popular courses, American Political Thought From Madison to Malcolm X (Govt 386) and Introduction to Political Philosophy (Govt 161), as well as advising graduate students. He was associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (1986-89) and served an earlier five-year term as chair of the government department in the early 1980s.

A Cornell faculty member since 1972, Kramnick has received the university's Clark Distinguished Teaching Award and, in 1998, was named a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, an honor reserved for Cornell's most effective, inspiring and dedicated teachers of undergraduate students. He also is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences and of London's Royal Historical Society, a former president of the American Society for 18th Century Studies and recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1996 Kramnick received a student-based award, the Cornell Daily Sun "Best Cornell Professor" citation.

Kramnick, now 63, attended public schools in Millis, Mass., and graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College (1959), studied at Cambridge University (1959-60) and earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University (1965) before teaching at Harvard, Brandeis and Yale. He is the author, editor or co-author of 20 books on British and American political thought and history, most recently The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness (1996) with Cornell history professor R. Laurence Moore. Kramnick has just completed editing a new edition of Tocqueville'sDemocracy in America for publication in 2002.

Anticipating his role in university President Hunter Rawlings' initiative – to enhance undergraduate education at Cornell – Kramnick said: "This faculty and its most distinguished members have made Cornell one of the great universities of the world, but this impact has been felt, primarily, outside the university. It is my hope that the we can now direct some of that same excellence and energy to our own undergraduate community. My task will be to encourage and facilitate that redirection and rededication of scholarly energy."

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