Dean of the College Maud Mandel will step down as dean and serve as the 18th president of Williams College starting July 1, according to a March 13 University press release.
“Maud embodies the values at our core and will provide exceptional leadership as we continue to pursue our shared aspirations for Williams,” wrote Michael Eisenson, chair of the Williams College Board of Trustees and chair of the presidential search committee, in an email to The Herald. “It will be a joy to welcome her to the college and to work with her in the years to come.”
Mandel first came to the University in 1997 as a visiting assistant professor of history, joined the faculty permanently in 2001 and was promoted to full professor of history and Judaic studies as well as dean of the college in 2014.
President Christina Paxson P’19 said she remembers how Mandel’s “deep commitment to the quality of undergraduate education” was evident when the University first interviewed her for the position of dean. “She loves teaching. She loves students. She loves faculty,” Paxson said.
Of all that Mandel has accomplished during her time as dean of the college, Mandel highlighted her work to help create the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center, the Learning Collaborative in the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, BrownConnect, Wintersession and the 1st Year @ Brown advising module as some of her proudest accomplishments as dean of the college. Provost Richard Locke P’18 described many of these as “critical initiatives” that “advanced excellence and strengthened our community,” in an email to The Herald.
“I worked in teams with people — with students, with faculty and with incredibly devoted and committed staff — to create a series of programs that will enhance opportunities for Brown students going forward,” Mandel said.
Paxson described Mandel as “somebody who’s very adept at working with groups of people … and bringing them together around ideas and advancing an agenda in a very collaborative way.”
“What I really love about this institution is the people,” Mandel said. Working at Brown has helped her understand how to “take those human resources and put them collectively … together for solving problems,” she said, adding that she will take this knowledge with her to Williams.
Michael Vorenberg, associate professor of history, described his feelings about Mandel’s departure as “a mixture of sadness for Brown but great happiness for Williams College, and especially for Dean Mandel herself.”
Mandel, who served as director of the Judaic studies program from 2012 to 2014, has “always been a natural leader,” Vorenberg said. “In the history department, she was constantly playing a leading role in terms of being on important committees (and) being the level-headed leader that the department often needed to steer its way through some tough questions.”
Mandel “has a deep respect for faculty governance, with a record of collaborative leadership,” wrote Safa Zaki, a professor of psychology and member of the presidential search committee at Williams, in an email to The Herald. “I am particularly struck by her humility and her ability to listen. I have no doubt that she will strengthen our community.”
Vorenberg noted that Mandel’s “breadth” as a scholar and “willingness to teach different types of courses and to work with a broad spectrum of students” has enhanced the academic experience at Brown.
“I think she’s the first person that was a joint position between history and Judaic studies, so that was a really important position in terms of bridging the two departments,” Vorenberg said.
Mandel mentioned one piece of advice for her successor as dean of the college: to enjoy the job. “Being the representative of Brown’s Open Curriculum (and) Brown’s undergraduate learning process is really to be the person that is connected to one of the things that makes Brown’s heart beat, and that is the part (of the job that is) an honor and a privilege.”
“Williams College will benefit greatly from her inspired vision, commitment to the transformative power of a liberal arts education and drive for results that make a difference in the lives of faculty, staff and students,” Locke wrote.
“I’m very excited about this new opportunity, and I’m grateful to this university for helping position me in such a way that I could go on to this really wonderful and exciting adventure,” Mandel said.