Former Franklin Institute Director Ian Baucom stepped down to take a position at the University of Virginia in July.
Former Franklin Institute Director Ian Baucom stepped down to take a position at the University of Virginia in July.

The John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute is currently searching for a permanent replacement for former director Ian Baucom, who stepped down to take a position at the University of Virginia.

Baucom began his term as UVA’s dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences July 1 after spending 17 years in Duke’s English department. A six-person search committee chaired by Laurent Dubois, professor of Romance Studies and History, is reviewing applications for the position—which will be filled by a current Duke professor.

“We are looking for a leader with the vision to enhance FHI’s imprint locally, as well as its broader reputation outside of Duke; and with the skills to nurture FHI in its tripartite mission of excellence in scholarship, education, and knowledge in service to society,” the institute said in a statement.

The search committee asks applicants to submit a letter of intent, a recent resumé and a “vision statement” for the institute’s future by October 20.

Romance studies professor David Bell is serving as interim director while the search is conducted. He filled the same position last fall when Baucom was on leave to conduct research.

“The transition has gone pretty smoothly,” Bell said. “That’s in large part because I know the staff so well, and they’re a great staff—they’re really the ones the make the place run.”

Bell, who is part of the search committee, said he is not a candidate for the permanent position.

"I'm looking forward to finding a dynamic candidate full of new ideas," he said.

Bell said his primary focus for the year will be working with the $1.3 million grant awarded to the institute by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation last spring. The grant will fund a new initiative allowing Duke’s humanities faculty and over 100 scholars worldwide to explore the future of humanities scholarship.

The institute and Duke's humanities departments will use the money to organize speaker series, public conversations and working groups. Speakers will then publish "think pieces" on the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of the humanities.

“Departments have been collaborating to create events where speakers come to campus and tackle some really serious topics,” Bell said. “It’s a huge opportunity, but that programming does require a lot of planning.”

Bell said his other goals for the year include making sure the Global Brazil Lab, launched this Fall, has a successful start. An interdisciplinary team of faculty will lead the lab, which will focus on Brazilian arts, social movements and natural environment.