Kathleen Blee Transition

June 1, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

In 2017, Kathleen Blee was appointed the Bettye J. and Ralph E. Bailey Dean of the University of Pittsburgh's Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. At the time of that appointment, she said, “The continued excellence of the Dietrich School is essential to maintaining Pitt’s position as a world-class university.” During these years at the helm, Kathy has ensured that, without doubt, the school has not only maintained that excellence but also made important additional progress.

Kathy has shared with me her decision to step down from her role as dean—effective June 30, 2023—and return to the faculty while continuing her significant efforts in the Collaboratory Against Hate, among other projects.

I want to recognize Kathy’s exceptional leadership of the Dietrich School. From building new programs and realizing a highly successful fundraising campaign, to making hard financial decisions, to concerted efforts to advance the school’s culture and reach—especially in the diversity and inclusion space—she has moved the school forward in profound, practical, systematic, and lasting ways. 

As you may know, Kathy’s journey to dean began when she joined the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Sociology at the rank of Professor in 1996, and her recruitment to Pitt included appointment as the Director of the Women's Studies Program. She served in that capacity from 1996 to 2001. Kathy was named Distinguished Professor of Sociology in 2007, and she served as chair of the Department of Sociology from 2008 to 2011. She has affiliated appointments in Departments of History and Psychology, as well as the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program. She is also associated with the Cultural Studies Program and the Center on Race and Social Problems.

Kathy’s scholarship has always been cutting-edge—and it is internationally recognized. She has published seven books and over 100 journal articles and book chapters. Much of her scholarship is based on analysis of her up-close ethnographic observations and interviews with white supremacists in the United States, including her books Women in the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s (University of California Press, 1991), Inside Organized Racism (University of California Press, 2002) and Understanding Racist Activism: Theory, Methods and Research (Routledge, 2017). Her work has won many awards, including a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize, the 2013 Charles Tilly Award for Best Book from the American Sociological Association, and the 2012 Outstanding Book in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research Award from the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action. In 2015, she was awarded the lifetime achievement award from the Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements of the American Sociological Association. Her research has been supported by an array of philanthropic institutions and federal agencies including the Aspen Institute, Maurice Falk Foundation, National Science Foundation, Department of Justice, and the USDA.

Over the years, Kathy has earned all three of the major teaching and scholarship awards at the University of Pittsburgh—the Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award in 2004, the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching award in 2007, and the Provost's Award for Excellence in Mentoring in 2007. That alone is quite remarkable. 

Kathy’s accomplishments are far-reaching, indeed—and the University of Pittsburgh has benefitted greatly from her vision and dedication—and will continue to do so after the conclusion of her deanship. 

As Kathy continues her work through the 2022-2023 academic year, please join me in thanking her for her outstanding and inspiring leadership. A search committee will be formed in the months ahead to identify her successor.


Ann E. Cudd
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor