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Cecilia Conrad to Direct MacArthur Fellows Program

Dean of Pomona College Cecilia Conrad

Media Mention

Read the New York Times article on Cecilia Conrad's appointment to the MacArthur Fellows Program.

Cecilia Conrad, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, has been selected to serve as Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, starting January 15, 2013. She was chosen following a national search and will succeed current MacArthur Fellows Director Daniel Socolow, who has served in that role 15 years. 

Conrad joined Pomona College in 1995 as a member of the economics faculty. In 2009, she was appointed Dean of the College. In that role, she has championed the College’s summer undergraduate research program, led conversations regarding the value and assessment of a liberal arts college education, and worked with academic departments to improve the campus climate for diversity. She also managed the recent WASC reaccreditation, directed a review of faculty tenure and promotion policies and has played a significant role in the management transition of the Claremont Colleges’ library and Bernard Field Station.

As a member of the faculty, Conrad is the Stedman-Sumner Professor of Economics and focuses her research on the effects of race and gender on economic status. In 2002, she was recognized as California’s Carnegie Professor of the Year, a national award that recognizes faculty members for their achievement as undergraduate professors. 

“Cecilia's leadership, experience and knowledge of Pomona have moved Pomona forward in a number of important areas,” said David Oxtoby, president of Pomona College. “While I am sorry Pomona is losing her, I think Cecilia’s skills and intellectual curiosity make her an excellent choice for the MacArthur Fellows Program.”

Conrad’s experience includes serving as interim Vice President and Dean of the Faculty at Scripps College while on leave from Pomona (2007-09) and as Pomona’s Associate Dean (2004-07). Prior to joining Pomona’s faculty, she taught at Duke University and Barnard College, Columbia University.

Conrad received her Masters and Doctorate degrees in economics from Stanford University with a specialization in labor economics, industrial organization and public finance. She was awarded her Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. 

“Many of us fantasize about receiving a phone call from the MacArthur Foundation saying, ‘You have been selected.’  My call did not inform me that I had won a fellowship, but rather an invitation to serve as the director of this unique and exceptional program,” said Conrad. “This is a tremendous honor and a thrill.  I am excited, but at the same time a little anxious about following in the footsteps of Dan Socolow who has built the program’s prestige and mystique.  It is also bittersweet to say goodbye to the Pomona College community that has nurtured me for over 16 years.”

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. The Fellowship is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.  Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.

Although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the Fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential. Indeed, the purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.

“I am thrilled that Cecilia will join the Foundation and lead MacArthur’s iconic Fellow’s Program, which recognizes and inspires creativity in all realms of human endeavor,” said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. “Her record of scholarship, intellectual engagement and rigor, creativity, familiarity with the program, and her warm personal style make her the right person for this important position. I also applaud outgoing Director Dan Socolow, who has led program for nearly half of its history, building its reputation for excellence and creativity.”  

More information about the MacArthur Fellows Program is available at

MacArthur Foundation Media Contact

Andy Solomon,, (312) 917-0313