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The Dean's Office

Lauren A. Benton

Dean BentonLauren Benton is dean of the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University and holds the Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Chair in History.

Benton is a distinguished scholar and experienced academic leader whose award-winning work spans history, law and anthropology. Her research focuses on the comparative legal history of empires and the history of international law. She is the author or co-editor of five books, including A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900, and more than 30 articles or book chapters. Her book Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900 was awarded the J. Willard Hurst Prize and the World History Association Book Prize.

Benton came to Vanderbilt from New York University, where she served as dean of that institution’s Graduate School of Arts and Science and held a Silver Professorship in History. In addition to being professor history, she was an affiliate professor of law.

She served as chair of NYU’s Department of History from 2007 to 2009 before being named acting dean for the humanities in 2009 and then dean for the humanities in 2010. She was appointed dean of NYU’s graduate school in 2012. Prior to joining NYU in 2003, Benton held faculty appointments at Rutgers University–NJIT, the University of Washington and M.I.T.

The daughter of a faculty member and dean at Johns Hopkins University, Benton grew up surrounded by scholars and teachers. After receiving her undergraduate degree in economics at Harvard University in 1978, she earned her doctorate at Johns Hopkins, where she became that institution’s first recipient of a joint Ph.D. in anthropology and history.

In addition to consulting for various organizations, Benton has served on the editorial boards of leading legal history journals and as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society for Legal History.