New boss for MacArthur 'genius grants'

Howard Reich

11:43 AM CDT, June 21, 2012


Cecilia Conrad, vice president for academic affairs and dean of Pomona College, in Claremont, Ca., will be the next director of the MacArthur Fellows Program. She will replace Daniel Socolow, who last year announced he was leaving the position after 15 years.

MacArthur Fellowships, or “genius grants,” provide recipients with $100,000 annually for five years, no strings attached. The funds are provided by the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction,” according to the foundation.

Jazzmen Ken Vandermark and Reginald Robinson, architect Jeanne Gang and anthropologist Shannon Lee Dawdy have been among Chicago’s fellowship winners.

“Many of us fantasize about receiving a phone call from the MacArthur Foundation saying, ‘You have been selected,’” said Conrad in a statement. “My call did not inform me that I had won a fellowship, but rather an invitation to serve as the director of this unique and exceptional program.”

Conrad will begin work on Jan. 15.