Presidential Search Committee Begins Yearlong Process
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 22:02
Following President Carol Christ's recent announcement that she would leave Smith in June 2013, an official Presidential Search Committee has been appointed to seek candidates for a new college president. The 12-member committee will go through a vetting process and eventually recommend a candidate to become Smith's next president.
The committee is chaired by trustee Louise Parent '72 and is comprised of both alumnae and faculty. On Tuesday, Yasmine Evans '13 was announced as the student member of the Presidential Search Committee.
"I am very excited and honored to be in this position and working with students to hear their feedback," said Evans. "I wanted to join the Presidential Search Committee because I wanted to give back to Smith and help Smith select a leader who will transition the college into a new stage of its development. This landmark decision will affect the future of Smith students and ultimately the next chapter of Smith in history."
The committee intends to hold an ongoing dialogue with the larger Smith community, which will include community discussions and regular communication about search process developments.
Associate Professor of Film Studies and committee member Alexandra Keller explained goals for the following year.
"The process of selecting the new president has a number of phases," Keller said. "First, we need to define our desires for the kind of president the community wants and needs. This requires input from all aspects of the community – students, faculty, staff, alumnae and others."
Keller added, "The search committee will be doing a lot of deep listening, discerning patterns, and eventually, coming up with some guidelines to refine the search itself."
In Christ's time at Smith, one of the most notable changes in Smith has been the increase in campus diversity. When asked about how Smith has significantly changed during her time here, Christ said, "Smith has become much more diverse. 13 percent of the class of 2015 are international students and a third are U.S. women of color. A decade ago eight percent of our students were international, and 21 percent were U.S. women of color."
Christ serves on the board of Sarah Lawrence College and has known the Sarah Lawrence president, Karen Lawrence, for many years. Lawrence commented on Christ's strengths, noting her "integrity" and her "intellectual and personal courage."
Lawrence also said she has often turned to Christ over the years for advice, particularly when she first became the president of Sarah Lawrence.
"Carol was the perfect advisor," Lawrence said. "Our professional backgrounds were similar … I was eager to learn from her about the transition. I was delighted that Carol agreed to speak on behalf of liberal arts colleges at my inauguration in 2007. Our email trail since then has made me realize how often I have consulted her on matters large and small."
As a member of the Sarah Lawrence board, Christ's experience as a college president brings "fresh eyes and an objective perspective" to board governance.
"Her experience, values, and personal qualities have made her an enormously effective member of SLC's Board of Trustees," Lawrence said. "As she leaves the presidency, we look forward to having her even more involved with our Board. We're not letting her go."
As Smith moves forward in the search for President Christ's replacement, Professor Keller described the challenges the new president will likely face.
"Smith's future is a bright one, but – and this is no different from any other college right now – it is a volatile one, and I hope that our new president will be calm, compassionate and ingenious in the face of that volatility," Keller said. "Liberal arts colleges are going to be tossed some lemons in the future – how is our new president going to help us make lemonade?"
The Presidential Search Committee welcomes all candidate nominations to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.