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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Northeastern taps political science scholar Kellee Tsai as new dean of CSSH

Kellee Tsai, the new dean of Northeastern University’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities. The university announced Tsai’s appointment Tuesday. Photo courtesy Northeastern media relations

Kellee Tsai, a political science professor and expert on China’s political economy, will lead Northeastern’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities, or CSSH, the university announced Tuesday in an article on Northeastern Global News, the university’s school sponsored publication.

“I am thrilled that Dean Tsai is joining us at Northeastern,” David Madigan, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, told Northeastern Global News. “Her global and impact-oriented perspective aligns superbly well with our academic plan and she is the perfect leader to propel the College and our entire global university to even greater heights.”

Tsai, who will assume office Feb. 26, 2024, comes to Northeastern from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, or HKUST, where she has served as dean of humanities and social science since 2018 and head of the school’s Division of Social Science since 2013. Tsai will relocate from Hong Kong to Boston in April 2024 and will succeed the previous dean Uta Poiger, who vacated the position in July. 

“I’m excited by the opportunities that are available to keep pushing in that direction and for Northeastern and CSSH in particular to demonstrate leadership in showing how that can be done,” Tsai said in an interview with Northeastern Global News. “As all these other institutions are scrambling to catch up and redefine their curriculum and provide experiential learning and research activities, Northeastern has that foundation already.”

Tsai spent 13 years at Johns Hopkins University prior to her role at HKUST — first as a professor, then as director of the East Asian studies program and finally as vice dean of the humanities and social sciences. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and doctorate from Columbia University. 

Students were notified in November 2022 that the university had launched a search to replace Poiger, who stepped into the role of special adviser to the provost on humanics July 1, which focuses on educational initatives and partnerships across Northeastern’s satellite campuses. Poiger served as dean of CSSH  from November 2012 to June 2023.

According to a Sept. 8 job posting for the position, the dean is tasked with advancing “the distinctiveness, reputation, and impact of the College,” as well as “overseeing the recruitment and development of faculty and staff.” CSSH has 272 full-time faculty members, according to the job posting.

“The new Dean has the opportunity to make a lasting impact on both a wide array of fields and on the students who engage them, redefining the value proposition of a liberal-arts education for the next generation of global thinkers,” the posting read. 

In July, Serena Parekh, distinguished professor of philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, took charge of the CSSH dean search committee, assuming the role vacated by Ronald Sandler, professor of philosophy and director of the Ethics Institute. Sandler stepped down as chair of the committee to serve as interim dean of the college July 1.

The university partnered with Opus Partners, a global executive search firm, for the “in-depth process” of selecting a new dean, Madigan wrote in a November 2022 email. The administration held a Town Hall meeting in November 2022 to “hear [the campus community’s] thoughts and perspectives on what attributes [they] are looking for in our new dean and what makes CSSH special.”

About the Contributor
Sonel Cutler
Sonel Cutler, Editor-In-Chief
Sonel Cutler is a third-year journalism and political science combined major and campus editor of The News. She has previously served as deputy campus editor and is excited to continue bringing thoughtful and thorough coverage of campus life to Northeastern students. Sonel was most recently on co-op with the Boston Globe's Metro desk. You can follow her on Twitter at @cutler_sonel.
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