Kevin McLaughlin completing extended term as dean

November 29, 2021

After more than a decade of service, Kevin McLaughlin will be completing his extended term as Brown’s Dean of the Faculty effective June 30, 2022 and taking a well-deserved sabbatical before returning to the faculty as the George Hazard Crooker Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and German Studies. I am honored to have worked with Kevin in this role, and I will sorely miss his leadership in University Hall. Kevin has been a longstanding presence on Brown’s senior leadership team and a tireless advocate for faculty. He leaves an enduring legacy and impact on our institution, and I am endlessly grateful for his contributions over the last eleven years.

Kevin arrived at Brown in 1996 as an Assistant Professor of English, rising to the position of Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature with tenure in 2000 and full Professor in 2003. He is a prolific scholar of literature and philosophy in the 19th century, with a large number of publications including four books, three edited volumes, and essays and articles on a range of topics. He has been the recipient of research grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Program and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. Throughout his time as Dean of the Faculty, Kevin continued teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on nineteenth-century Anglo-American and European literature, including popular survey courses and an interdisciplinary seminar called “What was Europe?” through the Cogut Institute for the Humanities.  Prior to serving as the Dean of the Faculty, Kevin served as the Chair of the English Department for six years and the interim Chair for the German Studies Department.

 As Dean, Kevin has collaborated with the senior leadership team of the University to grow and diversify the faculty and has focused consistently on enhancing the academic strength of departments, centers, and institutes across the University. Through the course of Kevin’s tenure:

  • The number of regular faculty under the Dean of the Faculty grew from 517 to 609, the largest expansion of the faculty ranks in Brown’s history. Kevin oversaw many of the individual hiring processes and helped identify fundraising opportunities to support new positions.
  • The percentage of faculty from historically underrepresented groups under the Dean of the Faculty increased by more than 130%.
  • The University created post-tenure sabbaticals, “regularized” many long-serving temporary faculty into permanent lecturer positions with benefits, and reduced the teaching load in the humanities and qualitative social sciences from four to three courses per year.

Kevin has helped to advance the University’s academic reputation in line with the 2014 strategic plan, Building on Distinction, by maintaining the highest standards for hiring, developing, and promoting world-class faculty across a wide range of disciplines. Under Kevin’s leadership, the University was able to raise funds for and launch several signature academic initiatives, including the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, the Institute at Brown for the Environment and Society (IBES), and the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, among others.

As a consummate collaborator and facilitator, Kevin worked with chairs, directors, and leaders from all disciplines to foster a culture of intellectual engagement, openness, achievement, and mutual respect. Kevin also led efforts to ensure equitable treatment and compensation of faculty across disciplines and demographic lines, and to build and maintain an inclusive environment for faculty, staff, and students across the University.

While I will certainly miss his presence and counsel, I am so excited that Kevin has the opportunity to enjoy a sabbatical year and return to his research and teaching. Kevin plans to complete a new book on the literary and cultural criticism of the German philosopher Walter Benjamin, and to continue helping to make Brown a leading teaching and research university as a member of the faculty.

Soon I will announce the search committee and process to identify Kevin’s successor. After more than a decade serving as a leader and advocate for the faculty, Kevin richly deserves our gratitude for his remarkable service and our best wishes for his future endeavors. Kevin has been a stalwart friend and generous colleague and has served the University and the faculty well over the years. After his well-deserved sabbatical, I am excited to see what is in store for him at the next stage of his career at Brown.


Richard M. Locke