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The American Academy in Rome seeks a new director to start in 2020

John Ochsendorf, professor at MIT and the current American Academy in Rome director. (M. Scott Brauer/MIT)

The American Academy in Rome (AAR) announced earlier this week that they are seeking a new Rome-based director to begin in July 2020 for an initial term of three years (2020-2023), with the potential for two one-year renewals. 

The current director, John Ochsendorf, assumed the role of the institute’s 23rd director in 2017 and will not be renewing his term. Originally selected from a large pool of candidates, Ochsendorf proved to be a great fit for the role due to the breadth of his research and academic experience. 

After earning his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering at Cornell, Princeton, and Cambridge Universities, respectively, Oschendorf began teaching at MIT. His interests lie in the history of construction, masonry mechanics, and sustainable design, and has collaborated with art historians, architects, and engineers, and has studied and structurally assessed many historic monuments from around the world.



As his three-year appointment is coming to an end, AAR is looking for a new director that matches the impact and expertise Ochsendorf brought to the table. The role involves working alongside the Academy’s president Mark Robbins on the intellectual and programmatic activities for all of the Academy’s activities in Rome. Together, they aim to push forward the Academy’s mission to create a “dynamic international community” of art-historical scholarship. 

The job description describes the main responsibility of the role is to “mentor, nurture, and advance the work” of the diverse group of scholars, artists, and designers that have been awarded Rome Prizes across a range of fields in the humanities. The academy’s Fellowship fields include Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern Italian studies. Ochsendorf himself was the first engineer to be awarded such a prize in 2007.

In an email correspondence, AAR told AN, “While we would love for John to extend his time with the Academy as director, his home institution (MIT) is eager to have him back. We certainly do not blame them, as he continues to have an amazing impact on the AAR community and the institution as a whole.”

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