Jason Merchant is the Lorna Puttkammer Straus Professor in the Department of Linguistics and in the College.
As Vice Provost, Jason works with deans and chairs on faculty and other academic appointments, promotions, recruitments, and retention, where the University’s commitment to the highest levels of research and teaching inform faculty-governed meritocratic decisions. Jason also serves as co-director of UChicagoGRAD, overseeing policy for the University’s PhD programs and postdoctoral researchers, in coordination with the deans. He is also the central point of contact for the administration of the University’s labor contract with non-tenure-track academic appointees.
Jason's primary research is in formal syntax, where he has published and edited books and articles on grammatical theory, analyzing language structures in more than two dozen languages (with special emphasis on modern Greek), and in formal semantics, morphology, and phonology. He has also done experimental syntax, fieldwork in the Balkans, and work on historical semantics and legal interpretation, and on bilingual children’s language competency. He has served as associate editor for Language, the journal of the Linguistic Society of America, and for Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, and serves on the editorial boards of several journals and book series. He earned his B.A. in linguistics summa cum laude from Yale and his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz; he has been a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst fellow at the University of Tübingen, a Fulbright fellow at Utrecht University, and an Onassis fellow at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He held postdoctoral fellowships at Northwestern University and the University of Groningen, and has taught as well at the École Normale Supérieure, Leiden University, University College London, and Konkuk University, Seoul. He has studied nineteen languages.
Jason has had several academic leadership roles at the University, including Director of Undergraduate Studies in linguistics, chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, interim chair of the Department of Linguistics, and Deputy Dean of the Humanities Division, as well as having served on the College Council and board of the Graham School. He developed the Humanities Core course Language and the Human, served as president of the University of Chicago’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and is a recipient of the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. He volunteers at the National Hellenic Museum, teaching modern Greek to adults and children, including his own.