Jason Merchant is the Lorna Puttkammer Straus Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Linguistics and in the College.
As vice provost, Jason is responsible for academic affairs and graduate education. The academic affairs portfolio includes overseeing all faculty and other academic appointments, promotions, recruitments, and retentions, where the University’s commitment to the highest levels of research and teaching inform faculty-governed meritocratic decisions guided by the Shils Report. Jason also oversees policy for the University’s graduate degree programs and postdoctoral researchers and, as faculty director of UChicagoGRAD, leads the University’s hub for providing services and resources to support graduate students and postdocs in academic and professional contexts.
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 done fieldwork in the Balkans, 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 BA in linguistics summa cum laude from Yale and his PhD 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 twenty languages.
Jason has had several academic leadership roles at the University, including 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 University’s Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and of the UC Santa Cruz Distinguished Graduate Student Alumni Award.