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Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Janet Broughton new arts, humanities dean

– Janet Broughton, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, will become the next dean of arts and humanities in UC Berkeley's College of Letters & Science, starting July 1.

Janet Broughton
Janet Broughton (Steve McConnell photo)

Broughton will fill the position now held by Anthony Cascardi, a professor of comparative literature, Spanish and rhetoric who has served as interim dean of arts and humanities since Ralph Hexter left to become president of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass.

"We are indeed privileged to have secured the services of Professor Janet Broughton for this deanship," said George W. Breslauer, executive dean of the College of Letters & Science, and the campus's executive vice chancellor and provost-designate. "She combines intellectual stature as a student of philosophy, a sharp analytic mind, a broad understanding of the arts and humanities, proven administrative ability and superb interpersonal skills. I look forward to working with her to maintain and enhance the stature of the arts and humanities at UC Berkeley."

Broughton is an authority on 17th- and 18th-century philosophy and her research focuses on the history of modern philosophy, particularly Scottish philosopher David Hume and French philosopher Rene Descartes.

More than half of UC Berkeley's faculty members teach in the College of Letters & Science, which counts three-quarters of the university's undergraduates and almost half of its Ph.D.s. Broughton will work with other Letters & Science deans who oversee the biological sciences, physical sciences, social sciences and undergraduate division.

Broughton's salary is $182,000 a year. She will receive a standard benefits package and will continue to accrue sabbatical credits while serving as dean. Broughton also will retain a previously awarded five-year research grant of $6,000 per year.

"I strongly believe the people of California deserve a university that fosters intelligent, informed reflection upon diverse arts, cultures and values," she said. "I'm proud of all the ways that the division of arts and humanities contributes to this mission; there's really no place in the world that can outdo UC Berkeley in the range and quality of its arts and humanities programs."

The division of arts and humanities includes the departments of art history, art practice, classics, comparative literature, East Asian languages and cultures, English, French, German, Italian studies, music, Near Eastern studies, philosophy, rhetoric, Scandinavian, Slavic languages and literatures, South and Southeast Asian studies, Spanish and Portuguese, and theater, dance and performance studies. It also encompasses film studies, the Townsend Center for the Humanities, the Consortium for the Arts and other groups.

Broughton said that the biggest challenge for the division is to thrive and flourish despite current budget austerities.

"We must continue to recruit outstanding faculty members and graduate students, and to offer the full range of courses that Berkeley's undergraduates want and need," she said. "Given the talent, energy and dedication of the arts and humanities faculty, I think these are challenges we can meet."

A native of New York, Broughton attended Mount Holyoke College for a year before joining the VISTA program and working on community programs for preschoolers and teenagers in Houston's Third Ward. After VISTA, she worked as the programmer and announcer for a classical music show on WRVR radio in New York City.

When she returned to school, she enrolled at Sacramento City College and then earned a B.A. in philosophy at UC Davis. She did graduate work at Princeton University, writing her dissertation about Descartes's theory of causality and earning her Ph.D. there.

Broughton's first academic position was at Harvard University. She joined UC Berkeley's philosophy department in 1979 and was its chair for five years. She was a member of the 2003-2004 campus task force on faculty compensation; she also served on the Academic Senate's Committee on Budget and Interdisciplinary Relations, chairing it in 2004-05. In addition, she has served as a distinguished member of many committees and boards at UC and other academic institutions. Her honors and awards include invited papers for Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Yale University and other prestigious institutions.

She is the author of a book, "Descartes's Method of Doubt" (2001), and a number of articles on Descartes and Hume. Currently she is co-editing "Blackwell's Companion to Descartes" and writing a book about Hume.

Broughton is on the editorial boards of the scholarly journals, "Hume Studies" and "Journal of the History of Philosophy." She has taught courses on skepticism, free will, the mind-body problem, and the nature of personal identity, as well as the history of philosophy.