Yale’s History Department plans to add three senior and four junior professors to its faculty for the fall semester, History Chairman Jon Butler said Wednesday.
The History Department — the University’s largest, with 63 faculty members — has already tapped Princeton University’s Ole Molvig as an assistant professor specializing in the history of the physical sciences and technology. Searches are nearly complete for two other assistant professors, and are underway for the other four positions, Butler said.
Butler said he expects to appoint junior professors specializing in the history of Byzantium and 20th-century U.S. politics soon.
“In these two cases, we have made our decisions,” Butler said. “I’m pretty confident that they’ll come, but I haven’t been able to make formal offers yet.”
The three senior searches are for scholars in Japanese history, 20th-century African American history and European medieval history.
“Senior recruiting can be tough,” Butler said. “We tend to move people from fancy places, so we have to do a lot of talking.”
The fourth junior search is for a Caribbean historian, which will add to the department’s growing Latin American sector.
The department has searched for a Byzantine scholar over the past decade, Butler said, but looks poised to appoint a new professor this year.
Five of the seven professorships will be additional positions for the History Department.
History major Tal Bialostocki ’05 said she is pleased with the new appointments, but would like to see more connectivity between fields in the department. She said the department’s broad course offerings tend to be “a little scattered.”
Molvig, who is at Princeton finishing his dissertation on science and technology in Germany and continental Europe, will teach a lecture course next year on the evolution of physics and technology over the past three centuries.
“One of my goals is finding ways of integrating classes that are equally attractive to the sciences and history,” Molvig said.
History professor Daniel Kevles, who chaired the search for Molvig, said Molvig’s courses will evolve over his first few years. He said Molvig needs to “get his sea legs” in his first year at Yale.
“[Molvig] has in mind to collaborate with the Physics Department and develop something that would qualify for the science requirement for nonscientists by approaching physics in a historical fashion,” Kevles said. “This is an area where we badly need representation. We don’t have anybody that specializes in the sciences in continental Europe.”
History major Peter Cohen ’05 said he would like to see Molvig teach a course that meets the Group IV distributional requirement.
“[There] is always a struggle for a lot of History majors to find a Group IV [course] here and there,” Cohen said. “[If] that could combine aspects of the History Department and the Physics Department, I think that would be a great option.”
Molvig, 27, said he is looking forward to working with undergraduates and is considering living in one of the residential colleges as a residential teaching fellow.
“Every faculty member I met told me to come to Yale because of the undergraduate teaching,” Molvig said. “I’m totally excited to get started. I think both the department and the program is a great fit for me and the reverse as well.”