Russell Muirhead named interim director of Rockefeller Center

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 11/1/19 11:00am


Muirhead has taught at Dartmouth since 2009.

by Eli Burakian / Courtesy of Dartmouth College

Government department chair and Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics Russell Muirhead has been named interim director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy effective Dec. 1, the College announced today. 

“I am excited to do everything I can to support the great things happening at Rocky,” Muirhead wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth. “I love the way Rocky inspires in students a care for public things and equips them with the skills and confidence to make a difference in the world.”

The Rockefeller Center offers classes to support its public policy minor, conducts a variety of leadership and experiential learning programs, and hosts frequent public lectures and debates.  

“We need Rocky: not to be dramatic, but the fate of constitutional democracy is more uncertain than at any time since the 1930’s,” Muirhead wrote. “There is no doubt in my mind that our country and our world are going to depend on your generation to renovate our politics and put things right. We need to discover new ways of making government seem worthy to citizens—because not many look at it and find it worthy right now. So Rocky’s mission is urgent, now more than ever.”

Muirhead has taught classes in the government department in American and contemporary political thought since 2009 and became chair of the government department this year. He has also served as the co-director of the Political Economy Project since its inception in 2014. Before coming to Dartmouth, he taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Harvard University and Williams College. 

Muirhead is also the author of three books. His most recent, “A Lot of People are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy,” compares modern-day conspiracy with “classic conspiracy theory” and was published this year. His other works, “The Promise of Party in a Polarized Age” and “Just Work,” were published in 2014 and 2004, respectively. 

The Center has been without a permanent director since economics professor Andrew Samwick finished his contract as director and returned to teaching in June. The search for a new director will continue as Muirhead assumes the interim position but has taken longer than expected, according to a College press release. 

The director must be a tenured faculty member, so the search may continue for months as a candidate goes through Dartmouth’s tenure review process.