WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College announced Tuesday the appointment of Maud S. Mandel, dean of the college and professor of history and Judaic studies at Brown University, as its 18th president.
She will succeed Protik (Tiku) Majumder, who has served as interim president since Jan. 1, following the move, after eight years, of Adam F. Falk to the presidency of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Mandel will begin her tenure at Williams on July 1, 2018.
The announcement was made in an email to the college community from Michael Eisenson, chair of both the Williams Board of Trustees and the college’s Presidential Search Committee.
“Maud embodies the values at our core and will provide exceptional leadership as we continue to pursue our shared aspirations for Williams,” Eisenson said.
As dean at Brown, Mandel has been deeply involved in efforts to advance diversity and inclusion, including promoting programs to foster retention for historically underrepresented students in the STEM fields. She also led a collaborative process with students and staff to open the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center (FLi Center), the first center at any Ivy League school to be dedicated to first-generation students.
“The committee found Maud’s passion for liberal arts education infectious and her commitment to deepening and enhancing inclusion and diversity stirring,” said Ngonidzashe Munemo, Williams’ associate dean for institutional diversity, associate professor of political science and member of the Presidential Search Committee.
In her scholarship, Mandel examines the ways policies and practices of inclusion and exclusion in 20th-century France have affected ethnic and religious minorities, most notably Jews, Armenians and Muslim North Africans. Her work has won support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the American Philosophical Society, among others.
A strong proponent of the liberal arts, Mandel established the Brown Learning Collaborative, aimed at strengthening student learning in the core competencies of a liberal arts education, including writing, reading, research, data analysis, problem-solving and public speaking.
“She is an impressive scholar who is clearly energized by her work with undergraduates,” said Safa Zaki, Williams’ professor of psychology, chair of the Faculty Steering Committee and member of the Presidential Search Committee. “She has a deep respect for faculty governance, with a record of collaborative leadership. I am particularly struck by her humility and her ability to listen. I have no doubt that she will strengthen our community.”
Mandel earned a B.A. from Oberlin College in 1989 and completed a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1998. After coming to Brown as a visiting assistant professor in 1997 she joined the university’s faculty permanently in 2001, rising to professor of history and Judaic studies in 2014. During this time, she also held leadership roles in the university’s Department of History and the Program in Judaic Studies, including a term as director of the program from 2012 to 2014. She became dean of the college in 2014.
“Both inside the classroom and as a senior academic leader, Maud Mandel’s impact on the undergraduate experience at Brown has been nothing short of transformative,” said Brown University President Christina Paxson. “Maud is a deeply knowledgeable higher education leader, a relentless champion for undergraduates and a truly inspiring colleague. We have been fortunate that she has made Brown her home for the last two decades, and I commend Williams College on its outstanding selection for its next president.”
Mandel’s husband, Steve Simon, and two children, Lev and Ava, will join her when she arrives at Williams College this summer.
“I have always known that Williams was an extraordinary institution, and I’ve had the pleasure over the last few months as I’ve engaged in this process to really learn much more about why Williams occupies this spot,” Mandel said. “And it is in that process that I have become so deeply drawn to this opportunity. I am excited to lead this extraordinary campus into the next phase of its development.”
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