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Lynch Named Olin College Dean of Faculty

Dr. Caitrin Lynch has been named Olin College Dean of Faculty, Provost Mark Somerville announced on July 9, 2021. This appointment was made after a nominating process and with significant input from Olin faculty. Lynch has been a member of the Olin faculty for 17 years; during that time, she has developed considerable, deep connections with Olin students and her faculty and staff colleagues.

Dr. Caitrin Lynch, Olin College Dean of Faculty, smiles at camera.

Dr. Caitrin Lynch, Dean of Faculty and Professor of Anthropology. Photo by Leise Jones.  

As a professor of anthropology at Olin, Lynch works with colleagues to create engaging and transformative educational experiences that develop students who are socially conscious, reflective, and empathetic, and who are oriented toward addressing inequities and considering the short- and long-term consequences of their actions. Lynch’s unique perspective—as an anthropologist among engineers—makes her appointment all the more significant as Olin prepares a new generation of socially- and environmentally-conscious engineers to positively impact the world.

“Caitrin’s appointment is one that reflects both my strong belief in her leadership potential and the strong confidence of her colleagues,” said Somerville. “Caitrin has been an informal leader and mentor among the faculty in many areas for almost two decades. Her new appointment puts her in a formal leadership position that she is well suited for at the College."

As Dean of Faculty, Lynch will oversee faculty hiring, support, development and evaluation. She will speak on behalf of faculty interests of the faculty to the President, Trustees and the Olin community, and will oversee all faculty committees that work in various avenues of the College. Lynch will work with the Provost and colleagues who lead other areas of Academic Life to ensure continuity, coordination, communication, and efficiency in the ongoing work of Academic Life.

“I am honored to take on this role and look forward to supporting my faculty colleagues as we work together to translate new institutional directions into on-the-ground action,” said Lynch. “We have an opportunity to reset the culture as we return to campus after more than a year of remote teaching and learning, to change how we work within Academic Life, and to align with both the strategic vision and the cultural vision of the College.”

Lynch has contributed to many important initiatives during her time at Olin, including serving on the Presidential Search Committee, the Organization and Culture team, and the Reappointment and Promotion Committee (as chair). Most recently, Lynch has been a resilient, visible leader among the Olin community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her contributions spanned a wide scope of initiatives that included co-leading an anti-racism study group among employees and were valuable in keeping faculty, staff and students connected to each other during more than a year of remote work and learning.

Lynch’s anthropological research focuses on the global garment industry, including a current project—a collaboration with Olin colleagues and students and funded by the NSF—that analyzes social and technical issues related to deindustrialization in the United States. Lynch is the author of two books (both published by Cornell University Press): “Retirement on the Line: Age, Work, and Value in An American Factory,” and “Juki Girls, Good Girls: Gender and Cultural Politics in Sri Lanka's Global Garment Industry.” Lynch holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Bates College, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago.