July 15, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 19

current issue
archive / search

    [john lucy] by jason smith
    John Lucy

    Lucy appointed to Social Sciences post

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    John Lucy, Professor in Psychology and Human Development, will begin a three-year appointment in July as Master of the Social Sciences Collegiate Division, Deputy Dean of the Division of Social Sciences and Associate Dean of the College. Lucy will succeed Stephen Walt, Professor in Political Science, who has served the College in these positions for the last three years.

    “We are extremely grateful to Steve for his leadership and dedication to the College,” said John Boyer, Dean of the College. “And we are equally gratified to see John accept these new roles. John is a highly respected scholar and a strong supporter of the College. It’s delightful to see a successful teacher come full circle, in a way, from his days as a Harper Instructor to his scholarly accomplishments in the fields of language, cognition and culture to this new leadership role, again, in the College.”

    Indeed, Chicago is a significant marker in Lucy’s academic journey. A graduate of Pomona College, Lucy earned his Ph.D. from the Committee on Human Development at Chicago in 1987. He was a William Rainey Harper Instructor in Social Sciences from 1987 to 1989. Lucy taught Political Economy, Individual and Society, Interpretation of Cultures and Language Diversity and Thought. He is the first Harper Instructor to become a Master in the College. In addition, he was a Resident Head for eight years.

    Prior to returning to Chicago, Lucy was a professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. He also was a visiting research fellow with the Cognitive Anthropology Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands for two years. Lucy has done extensive research on language and cognitive development in Yucatan, Mexico.

    He joined the University’s Department of Psychology and the Committee on Human Development in 1996.

    Although Lucy’s experience in the College is broad, what he appreciates about the curriculum has been influenced by its absence elsewhere. Small, seminar courses that require writing and are taken in the first year are invaluable to students’ progress and their ability to take on advanced courses, he said. He recalled the pleasure of seeing Chicago students’ progress in the Social Sciences sequences. “It’s quite remarkable how much beginning students improve in just two quarters of these classes,” said Lucy.

    “If the Core runs well, then you get two important results. First, you will get well-trained students who can hold their weight coming into advanced courses, which benefits everyone,” said Lucy. “Second, early exposure to all the divisions ought to generate a kind of openness to interdisciplinary connections for our students.

    “If students begin completing their Core requirements earlier under the new curriculum, we may see more undergraduates who are interested in bridging a variety of disciplines. New, interdisciplinary majors may even be created, such as premed students looking for a significant psychology component in their studies,” Lucy said.

    Lucy added that he would like to provide more tangible support for faculty who head the Core sequences. “That job requires a lot of effort and deserves more recognition,” said Lucy.

    Lucy acknowledges his familiarity with the College will inform his new responsibilities, but initially he is most concerned with what he still has to learn. “I’m an ethnographer by trade, so I want to see how our system works,” Lucy said smiling. “My first job as Master will be to learn a lot more about the Social Sciences Division––and then I can reflect on what steps we might take in the next few years.”