Board Kicks Off Search for Next Leader

New York -The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) today announced that President Alondra Nelson, the acclaimed scholar and former Columbia University Dean, who has led the SSRC since 2017, will be stepping down in the early fall of 2021, and that a search for her successor is now underway.

In a letter to SSRC staff and partners, Board chair Dr. Mamadou Diouf said of Dr. Nelson, “Her commitment to scholarly rigor, insistence on research innovation and experimentation, and pursuit of new and novel partnerships has reinvigorated the SSRC and positioned it for a vibrant future as it approaches its second century.” He added that Dr. Nelson began discussions with the Board’s Executive Committee in December about her intention to step away from her leadership role, in order to take fullest advantage of her tenure at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and to focus more time on her ongoing research in bioethics, science and society, and social inequality.

In a letter to SSRC staff, Dr. Nelson shared, “It has been a true privilege to lead this organization, and to – with all of you – orient it toward its next century in every respect. Together, we have built on SSRC’s legacy of scholarly rigor and intellectual depth and have infused it with greater inclusivity, bravery, and administrative and programmatic excellence on par with our scholarship. The partnerships we have built together have made both our research and our community stronger, for which we should all take great pride.”

Dr. Diouf noted three major areas of transformative accomplishment during Nelson’s tenure: integration and collaboration; modernization and future focus; and strategic partnerships. He said, “Alondra has enabled and encouraged colleagues to learn from and leverage one another’s experiences, and has designed new and deepened programs built explicitly for integrated, cross-disciplinary teams.”

“The Council also has, under Alondra’s leadership, attracted a cohort of early-career scholars in cutting-edge fields from data science to disinformation to global history, pioneering new methods and study-design approaches, and has made research something the SSRC studies as well as conducts.”

“From her earliest days leading the SSRC, Alondra has advanced the goal of mobilizing social science for the public good, and that has meant new faces, new perspectives, and new partnerships. The SSRC has created a new internship program with Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, a mentorship program for Brownsville, Brooklyn high school students, and partnerships with Gothamist, WNYC, Brooklyn Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York, and The New Yorker, among others. She has also deepened and strengthened relationships with the Council’s new and longstanding supporters, raising nearly 50 million dollars in support of social research. The extraordinary progress of the last few years at the SSRC now affords the organization the ability to begin thinking about its next chapter, in advance of our centennial, and to capitalize on existing momentum to, with Alondra’s help, recruit its first leader for its second century.”

The Board’s Executive Committee will serve as the search committee for the SSRC’s next leader, and today launched a web page with search details. For inquiries and nominations, please contact Search Committee Chair, Dr. Helen Milner.

June 6, 2020