McIntosh named interim dean of School of Social Sciences

Susan McIntosh, professor of anthropology at Rice, will become interim dean for the School of Social Sciences effective May 15. She replaces Antonio Merlo, who stepped down to assume the position of dean of the faculty of arts and science at New York University.

Susan McIntosh. Photo by Tommy LaVergne.

Susan McIntosh. Photo by Tommy LaVergne.

McIntosh, the Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Anthropology, has taught at Rice since 1981.

“I’m honored by the provost’s confidence in me and look forward to working with colleagues across the school to maintain the momentum that Dean Merlo created,” McIntosh said.

“Susan is devoted to Rice faculty, students and staff, and she is well known and deeply trusted across campus,” said Rice Provost Marie Lynn Miranda. “She understands all the many nuances of our educational and research programs, as well as the uniqueness of Rice culture. Her experience in so many different aspects of the university will serve the School of Social Sciences well during this transition year.”

“Having worked closely with Susan on a number of issues and in her role as speaker of the Faculty Senate, I know how fortunate we are that she is willing to take on the role of interim dean at this important time for the School of Social Sciences,” said Rice President David Leebron. “I know we can count on her leadership and dedication to continue moving the school forward.”

McIntosh, who was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University from 1989-90 while on leave from Rice, is an expert on West African archaeology, with particular emphasis on societies living along the Niger and Senegal rivers over the past 2,500 years. Her current research focuses on the origins and development of trans-Saharan trade connections.

She is the co-author or editor of four major monographs on field research in Mali and Senegal that was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. “Beyond Chiefdoms,” a book edited by McIntosh, explored the use of African data for understanding the emergence and development of complex societies. Another book, “The Way the Wind Blows,” edited with Roderick McIntosh and Joseph Tainter, highlights the proceedings of a conference on climate change and human response.

In addition to her books, McIntosh has authored more than 70 articles on West African archaeology and cultural heritage and she serves on the editorial boards of four international archaeology journals. She served two terms on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (now part of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs) from 1995-2003 following her appointment by President Bill Clinton.

McIntosh has a long history of dedicated service to the Rice community on numerous planning committees, working groups and councils.

She served on Faculty Senate from 2009-10 and 2013-18, including as speaker from 2010-12. She chaired the Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum from 2007-10 and 2013-18. During this period, she also served on the Social Sciences Advisory Committee (2008-10) and the Dean of Social Science’s Personnel, Planning and Priorities Committee (2016-18) and was the Director of Scientia (2006-15). Earlier, she chaired an ad hoc committee on infant and child care (2003-07) that successfully proposed the construction of the Rice child-care facility. She was co-magister of Baker College from 1984-89. In 2018, she was a recipient of the inaugural Award for University Service and Leadership.

“We are grateful to Susan for her willingness to serve the university in this important role,” Miranda said. “We are confident that the School of Social Sciences will continue its exciting trajectory under her leadership.”

Details about the national search for a permanent dean of the School of Social Sciences will be forthcoming.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.