The Institute for Advanced Study has appointed David Nirenberg as its 10th Director and Leon Levy Professor, effective July 1, 2022. Currently dean of the Divinity School at the University of Chicago and professor of medieval history, Nirenberg will assume leadership of one of the world’s preeminent centers for theoretical research in the sciences and humanities.
At UChicago, Nirenberg was also founding director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, Dean of the Social Sciences, and Executive Vice Provost.
“David’s administrative accomplishments, like the Institute itself, transcend cultural and disciplinary boundaries, providing new frameworks of knowledge to understand society and to realize the power of collective curiosity,” said Nancy Peretsman, IAS Board Vice-Chair and Chair of the director search committee.
“The appointment of a humanities scholar is a bold choice, which departs from several decades of directors trained in science and mathematics, but reaffirms in the strongest sense the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration,” said Charles Simonyi, IAS Board Chair. “An energetic and astute leader, David understands that the Institute is a public good in service of society.”
Nirenberg’s scholarship on Christians, Jews, and Muslims of medieval Europe and the Mediterranean provides deep insights into present-day challenges of racism, anti-Semitism, hate speech, and inequality.
Nirenberg has also held positions at Rice University and Johns Hopkins University, where he founded the Stulman Center for Jewish Studies. As founding director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at UChicago, Nirenberg championed collaborations across every division, school, and affiliated laboratory at the university. Earlier, Nirenberg spent a year as a Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study.
“Since the Institute’s creation in 1930, discoveries by its faculty have transformed fields from mathematics and physics to anthropology and art history. The Institute has also served the nation and the world through the constant performance of its founding values: that discriminations by gender and race are inimical to excellence, that scholars and ideas must move freely if fundamental knowledge is to flourish, and that when knowledge flourishes, humanity benefits,” said Nirenberg.
Nirenberg has served on the Board of the Argonne National Laboratory and the National Opinion Research Center. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, History and Philosophy/Religion sections.