The University of Chicago has named David Fithian, an experienced administrator at Harvard University, to the position of Secretary of the University. He will work with President Robert J. Zimmer as part of a leadership team working on plans to advance the strategic goals of the University.
In his new job, Fithian will be the primary liaison to the Chair of the Board of Trustees and other Trustee leaders. He will oversee and manage meetings for the board, work with deans to coordinate the University’s visiting committee program that brings leading civic and business leaders to campus, and play a lead role in managing University governance in order to further the long-term strategic interests of the University.
Fithian, who will begin his duties at the University July 1, is currently Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Secretary of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.
“David brings to this position a wide range of skills and a great deal of knowledge about the inner workings of universities,” Zimmer said. “At Harvard, where he has been for twelve years in a series of progressively more responsible positions, he became known for his wise counsel on governance and process and his thoughtful, calm judgment on even the most difficult issues. We look forward to benefiting from his considerable talents.”
Fithian said, “I very much look forward to coming to the University of Chicago for what is clearly a wonderfully challenging job that is a natural extension of the work I’ve done. I am very pleased and grateful for the chance to be part of President Zimmer’s team as he works on exciting new plans for the University.”
In his Harvard position, Fithian facilitates communication between the Dean of the Faculty and the Faculty’s elected governing body, the Faculty Council. He also works closely with the President’s Office at Harvard and the university’s Office of the Governing Boards. His work has required that he work with students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
As Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Fithian coordinates the work of the dean’s office, including the preparation of correspondence, reports and publications in addition to advising the dean on policy issues and serving as the primary liaison to many of the Faculty administrative offices.
Fithian began his career at Harvard in 1995 when he was named Assistant Dean of Freshman and was responsible for the oversight of the orientation programs, academic advising, as well as housing and residential life.
From 1998 to 2001, he was an Allston Burr Senior Tutor (residential college dean) and worked to oversee orientation programs, academic advising, housing and residential life for upper-class students and taught for the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies.
From 1998 to 2003, Fithian was Assistant Dean of Harvard College and Secretary of the Administrative Board of Harvard College, where he facilitated the day-to-day work of the Allston Burr Senior Tutors and managed the work of the Administrative Board.
He was named Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and Secretary of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 2004.
Besides teaching at Harvard, he has also taught at Yale University and the University of Connecticut.
He received a B.A. in sociology and English from Clark University in 1987, and M.A. (1988), M.Phil. (1990) and Ph.D. (1994) degrees in Sociology from Yale. He was the winner of the Theron Rockwell Field Prize, a literary award, for his dissertation, A Dark and Shining Stone: Symbol Contests and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was the first time Yale gave the prize to a social science dissertation.