An American professor has been appointed as professor of gender stereotypes at Cambridge University. Deborah Prentice, former Provost of Princeton University, will become the first American to fill the Vice Chancellors role at Cambridge.
The outgoing Cambridge vice-chancellor, Canadian lawyer Stephen Toope, is leaving his position two years early with the suggestion being that the Covid pandemic has taken a toll on his family.
The University is, seemingly, trying to navigate away from controversies over both free speech and culture wars. Professor Prentice has been previously praised by colleagues for her “wisdom, skill, collegiality, and scholarly values.” Her career has covered a 34-year period at Princeton which included a five year period as a Provost, she was Dean of the faculty between 2014 and 2017, and chair of the department of psychology for 12 years.
The professor has stated that she is an academic “first, last and always” and has been described by Princeton as “a psychologist who studies social norms and whose research has focused on gender stereotypes, intimate partner violence and excessive alcohol.”
Yet she has been faced with free speech challenges in the US in which a noted Princeton professor was dismissed. By virtue of her position as Provost at the Ivy League school she was drawn into controversy after a classics professor, Joshua Katz, was dismissed earlier this year. The suggestion being that he had not been fully honest and co-operative with an investigation into his sexual relationship with an undergraduate student 15 years ago.
By contrast, allies of Prof Katz were concerned that he was targeted for his views, after he criticised anti-racist proposals by Princeton faculty, students, and staff in an online journal.
In response to her appointment at Cambridge Prentice said: “It is a huge honour to be nominated to lead such a renowned institution. I welcome the challenge of helping Cambridge write the next chapter of its long and proud history.”