From the Director

This article first appeared in ISAW Newsletter 13, Fall 2015.

Roger Bagnall
Leon Levy Director

As ISAW begins its ninth year, life at 15 East 84th Street has never been busier. That much will be obvious to any reader of this Newsletter. Our internal address list contains seventy-five names, which for me form a striking contrast to our first days in the summer of 2007, when the total population could have fit into a telephone booth. That image, of course, betrays my age. Next summer I will accordingly step down as Director. The search committee for my successor is at work, chaired by Daniel Fleming, the long-time chair of our advisory committee.

Since the last newsletter, ISAW has for the first time promoted to tenure a faculty member originally appointed as a beginning assistant professor. This is Lorenzo d’Alfonso, and he gives us in this issue (p. 5) a brief account of his exciting fieldwork in Turkey. There are few more important moments in the life of an academic institution than the tenuring of a young faculty member. Not only is this a long-term commitment and investment in the future of ISAW, it is an opportunity to share the critical burdens of managing the institution with another colleague! Lorenzo has promptly been given charge of the selection process for our visiting research scholars for this year.

This year has also brought important developments in ISAW’s role in NYU’s global enterprise. Lillian Tseng launched a multi-year research program on the extraordinary sculptures from Xi’an, involving not only ISAW but NYU Shanghai and the Center for Ancient Studies at Washington Square (p. 4). And Armin Selbitschka was appointed to the faculty of NYU Shanghai, the first scholar of antiquity to join that young institution. Both Armin and Fiona Kidd (NYU Abu Dhabi) are now Global Network Faculty and can take active roles in ISAW’s doctoral program. This fall, Fiona is also co-teaching an undergraduate course with Sören Stark, with classrooms in both New York and Abu Dhabi and students from both campuses. Given time-zone differences, such classes are not simple matters to arrange, but we view this as an important opportunity to test-drive the technologies that will help knit the Global Network University together and give ISAW an important role in it.

The past twelve months have also seen many acts of generosity on the part of individuals and foundations, enhancing ISAW’s work and giving me confidence that my successor will be able to pursue many of the opportunities that lie before us. Our exhibitions program has received strong external support this year as it continues its dazzlingly original work. The friends to whom we owe so much are listed on our web site (, and I take this opportunity to thank them again. A particularly happy development was the recent receipt of an anonymous gift of $500,000 to support excavation work in the countries around the Mediterranean.

I hope you will join us for many of our rich offerings of lectures this fall; and do not miss the quite exceptional photographic exhibition that opens on October 22 (p. 12).