Interim FCRH dean seeks to build on Latham’s momentum

John Harrington. (

John Harrington

Last updated March 8 at 11 p.m.

John Harrington, dean of arts and sciences faculty and an esteemed English professor at Fordham since 2009, has been tapped to temporarily replace Michael Latham as dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, effective this July, senior school officials said Thursday.

The interim position is being filled by Harrington until a search can be conducted to find a permanent dean, officials said. Harrington’s selection may be characterized as a logical progression through the hierarchy of Fordham College administrators.

Since his earliest days at Fordham — among his duties, leading 350 full-time faculty members in 20 departments — Harrington has become closely linked to Latham, who also began his tenure as dean in 2009.

“I am very confident that Dr. Harrington will serve the college with distinction,” Latham said by email Thursday afternoon. “We have worked very closely over the past five years and he is very familiar with and strongly supportive of the college’s strategic goals and initiatives.”

Stephen Freedman, Fordham’s provost, who ultimately selected Harrington as Latham’s temporary replacement, echoed a similar sentiment of confidence.

“With an outstanding record of scholarship, teaching, and academic and administrative leadership, Dr. Harrington is eminently qualified for his new role as interim dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill,” he said in a statement.

Following news of the announcement, Harrington vowed to carry forth the work of his predecessor.

“I’ve already heard from alumni who feel the college has terrific positive momentum now including Mike’s initiatives on science programs, undergraduate research, and teaching innovations,” he said via email. “I’ve served as college Dean elsewhere, and I know that it is every Dean’s dream to inherit strengths, not problems, and that is where we all stand with Fordham College at Rose Hill.”

During his time spent as dean of arts and sciences faculty, Harrington chaired the Council of Deans of Arts and Sciences where he launched new initiatives for faculty hiring, faculty mentoring and development, and external department and program reviews, according to Freedman’s statement.

But, considering his time spent at Fordham, Harrington’s work has widely extended across campus. In fact, this interim announcement seems to be the latest in a string of short-term posts he has held. He was interim dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education from 2011 to 2012, director of the Irish Studies Institute from 2013 to 2014 and director of the Office of International Initiatives from 2013 to 2014.

Latham, the current dean of FCRH, announced in December that he would be leaving Fordham this summer to become the dean and vice president for academic affairs at Grinell College. “Fordham has profoundly shaped my sense of what the liberal arts can achieve,” he said at the time. “Grinnell’s commitment to inquiry-led learning, undergraduate research, innovative teaching and social justice strongly parallel the values that I have found and embraced here at Rose Hill.”

When asked for comment in December, Harrington praised Latham’s career at Fordham.

“This is a great opportunity for Mike to advance some of the key values he advanced at Fordham — close student-faculty communication, advancement of sciences as part of liberal arts and emphasis on undergraduate research,” he said via email.

As a faculty dean, Harrington has not been exposed to as much student interaction as he will be in his new job. But Emily Horihan, FCRH ’14, United Student Government’s vice president of Fordham College at Rose Hill, has been in meetings with Harrington and believes his transition into the role of dean will be seamless.

“I think students should look forward to working with Harrington,” she said. “In our meetings, he has always been interested in gaining a better understanding of the student perspective when addressing issues. He also has a long history as a professor, and continues to teach today, so I’m sure collaborating with students will be no new task. “

Harrington received a bachelor’s degree in English from Columbia University, a master’s degree in Anglo-Irish studies from University College Dublin, as well as a doctorate in literature from Rutgers University.

He has published a number of works about Irish literature and culture, which include: The Irish Beckett (Syracuse University Press, 1991), The Irish Play on the New York Stage, 1874-1966 (University Press of Kentucky, 1997), and The Life of the Neighborhood Playhouse on Grand Street (Syracuse University Press, 2007), which was nominated for American Theatre Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society of America.

Prior to arriving at Fordham, Harrington worked for seven years as dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and Professor of Humanities at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.