Professor and Provost Will Dudley ’89 has been appointed president of Washington and Lee. Full e-mail from Adam Falk below the break. Comments:

1) Congrats to Will, a longtime friend (or, at least, frenemy) of EphBlog.

2) This opens up the race to succeed Falk. Dudley, because of his insider status and great alumni connections was always the favorite, especially since Williams has a history of following outsider presidents (like Falk) with insiders.

3) Washington and Lee (ranked #14 by US News) is a much more prestigious (and well-endowed) institution than Wooster (Bolton) and Dickinson (Roseman), much more the sort of school that top Williams administrators go to. Or maybe that was just true historically and now the competition for college presidencies is much tougher?

4) From the news article:

W&L, a school that traces its heritage to President George Washington and was led by Gen. Robert E. Lee following the Civil War, has sometimes struggled to reconcile its rich history with current-day issues of race and diversity. Displays of the Confederate flag at Lee Chapel, where Lee is interred, have generated controversy.

Like the 26 presidents before him, Dudley is a white male.

“At the very front end of the process, we were conscious of that,” Owens said in response to a question about how a desire for diversity influenced the school’s search.

Women and minorities made the short list, he said, “but at the end of the day, we chose somebody that was going to be the best candidate for W&L.”

I would suspect that the Black Lives Matter folks would have serious complaints about a school named after a slave owner (Washington) and a confederate general (Lee). If I were Dudley, I would do everything I could to ensure that black students at W&L were of comparable academic quality to non-black students. There is no better way to create a militant BLM movement on campus that excessive affirmative action and the academic mismatch which inevitably follows.

5) Was Bolton (also on the market over the last year) on the short list at W&L?

6) Most interesting decision that Dudley faces? I would go with fraternities/sororities, which 80% (!) of W&L students participate in. Was Will asked about this? Did he offer any thoughts? Williams College is, of course, famous for being the first (?) elite liberal arts college to get rid of Greek Life, more than 50 years ago. I bet that Dudley thinks that Williams made the right choice then. If so, what choice should W&L make today?

To the Williams Community,

It’s happened again. The wise folks at another institution of higher education—this time Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.—have recognized the exceptional talent, wisdom, and leadership of someone in our midst and decided to make that person their next president.

It’s Will Dudley ’89, who has served admirably as provost since 2011. Will has accepted W&L’s offer and will begin as president there in early January 2017. You can see W&L’s announcement here.

Will is especially well suited for the role at W&L, a school grounded in the liberal arts tradition and dedicated to ensuring its continued relevance and value in today’s world. Will has spent his career doing that very thing, both as a professor and as provost. Since joining the philosophy faculty in 1998, his service at Williams has included chairing the Committee on Undergraduate Life and service as Gaudino Scholar and on the Committee on Educational Policy, Committee on Diversity and Community, and others. His devotion to the liberal arts extends beyond his alma mater; he’s been a member of the board of trustees of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts since 2010, and currently serves as its vice chair.

Will has brought a rare combination of analytical depth and humane commitment to his five years as provost, and he has been a wonderful colleague as a member of the senior staff. Thankfully, since Will is an alumnus of the college, with this move he won’t be leaving the Williams community entirely.

Please join me in congratulating Will on this fantastic news.


Adam Falk

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