Carla Freeman, executive associate dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences (ECAS) and Goodrich C. White Professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies (WGSS), was selected as ECAS interim dean, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Ravi V. Bellamkonda announced in a July 21 email to ECAS students. 

“Dr. Freeman has been a dynamic scholar, passionate and thoughtful teacher, and dedicated leader in the College,” University President Gregory Fenves said in a July 21 press release. “As interim dean, I know she will set a high standard, bringing out the potential of the thousands of students, faculty and staff who make the Emory College of Arts and Sciences outstanding.”

The search for an interim dean began after outgoing ECAS Dean Michael Elliott shared in a June 1 email that he will become the president of Amherst College (Mass.), his alma mater, beginning Aug. 1. Elliott joined Emory in 1998 as an assistant professor of English and a director of graduate studies. He has served as ECAS dean since 2017. 

Carla Freeman was named the interim dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences. Photo courtesy of Emory University

Freeman will assume her position on Aug 1.

“In our conversations, Carla has expressed her excitement at leading the College at this point in time, especially the prospect of focusing more of her time on enhancing the experience of our students through our student flourishing initiative, as well as investing in faculty in ways to further eminence of the College nationally,” Bellamkonda wrote.

Freeman joined the Emory community as a professor in 1995, teaching in the WGSS, anthropology and Latin American and Caribbean studies departments. She received a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Temple University (Penn.), as well as a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College (Penn.).

Throughout her time at Emory, Freeman served as a department chair and senior associate dean of faculty before accepting the role of executive associate dean in 2020. 

Bellamkonda wrote that Freeman has been “deeply involved in the diversification of College faculty,” noting that since 2017, nearly half of the new faculty members identify as members of historically underrepresented groups, women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), or both. ECAS has “nearly doubled” in the percentage of faculty who belong to a historically underrepresented group, which Bellamkonda defined as “African American, Hispanic/Latinx, or Native/Indigenous.”

Freeman also focused on research as she rose through the ranks at Emory. Her research — which has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the Fulbright Program — focuses on the culture, gender and political economy of labor and globalization. She also studies the changing nature of work and life in the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as affect and affective labor across market and non-market economies. 

After over 30 years of fieldwork experience in the Caribbean, Freeman has written three books and has been published in several journals, including “American Ethnologist” and “Feminist Anthropology.” 

She previously served as the president of the Association for Feminist Anthropology and co-editor of Oxford University Press’ series of contemporary ethnography, “Issues of Globalization.”

Freeman said in the press release that “Emory University is at its most transformative juncture since the historic Robert W. Woodruff Foundation gift in 1979.” 

“We are fully committed to enhancing our scholarly eminence, faculty diversity, a more holistic undergraduate experience and a successful, comprehensive fundraising campaign,” Freeman said. “I am intent to accelerate all of these efforts.”

Freeman’s new position is one among numerous leadership shifts at the University. Rollins School of Public Health Dean M. Daniele Fallin and Goizueta Business School Dean Gareth James joined the Emory community and assumed their respective deanships on July 1. In June, Emory named Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology Kenneth Carter interim dean of Oxford College.

The University will begin a nation-wide search for the next ECAS dean following Freeman’s selection, according to a June 1 email from Elliott.

Update (7/21/22 at 10:36 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated that Carla Freeman will be the first woman to hold the position of ECAS dean. In fact, she is the second woman to be dean, as Eleanor Main served as acting dean of the College for seven months in 1987.