Appointment of Faculty Director of the Institute for the Liberal Arts

Dear all,

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Brigham, Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, as the inaugural Faculty Director of the Institute for the Liberal Arts. Bob will serve as Faculty Director of the Institute for a three-year term, to begin on July 1, 2023.

In announcing Bob’s appointment, I want to thank the members of the Institute for the Liberal Arts Committee, for their valuable work in helping to craft the position description and meeting each of the Faculty Director candidates. Members of the committee were excited about Bob’s proposal for an Institute program focused on a deep examination of poverty in the United States, and were inspired by his vision for a genuinely collaborative planning process, bringing together faculty, students, administrators and staff, alums, and members of the local community to convene the kinds of rich conversations that shine a light on enduring challenges and urgent questions.

During his 29 years at Vassar, Bob has made many valuable contributions to the College community. Among many faculty leadership roles, he has served as Chair of the History Department and Director of the International Studies Program, as well as Director of the Vassar-West Point initiative for the past decade. In addition, Bob has served as Chair of the Appeal Committee, Co-Chair of the Committee on Admission and Financial Aid, Director of the Ford Scholars Program, and Co-Chair of the House Fellows Committee. Bob has organized many College events, bringing countless speakers to campus, and he served as Director of the 2018 Vassar Summer Institute for the Liberal Arts. These experiences hosting guests and collaborating with colleagues to convene campus programs will serve Bob very well as he works with the Institute Committee to engage partners, both on and off campus, to build a robust schedule of Institute programming.

After receiving a BA in History from SUNY Brockport and an MA in History from the University of Rhode Island, Bob earned a PhD in History from the University of Kentucky in 1994. Bob joined the Vassar faculty in the Department of History in 1994, and teaches courses on the history of US foreign relations and the Vietnam War. He is the author of eight books, including Guerrilla Diplomacy: The NLF’s Foreign Relations and the Vietnam War (1998), Iraq, Vietnam, and The Limits of American Power (2008), and, most recently, Reckless: Henry Kissinger and the Tragedy of Vietnam (2018), in addition to dozens of essays, book reviews, and media commentaries. Bob has been awarded many grants and fellowships, including from the Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright Scholar Program, the Eisenhower World Affairs Institute, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Please join me in congratulating Bob on his appointment to this new role. As Faculty Director, Bob will serve as Chair of the Institute for the Liberal Arts Committee, and I look forward to supporting Bob and the committee with the important work of leading the Institute for the Liberal Arts.


Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604