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Welcome President Mandel

To the Williams Community,

It is my honor and pleasure to inform you that on Sunday, March 11, the Board of Trustees appointed Maud S. Mandel as the 18th president of Williams College. President-elect Mandel, who will begin her tenure at Williams on July 1, 2018, currently serves as Dean of the College and Professor of History and Judaic studies at Brown University.

You can learn more about President-elect Mandel by watching a video interview we’ve posted on the special announcement website, where you’ll also find her CV and other information about her scholarship and career.

I could not be more excited about welcoming Maud Mandel to the college. She has a distinguished record as a scholar, a teacher and an academic leader, and has demonstrated throughout her career a deep and abiding affection for the students, faculty and staff who together create a great academic enterprise. She embodies the values at our core and will provide outstanding leadership as we continue to pursue our shared aspirations for Williams.

I want to thank the members of the Presidential Search Committee for their extraordinary work leading to this terrific result for Williams. We were privileged to meet many exceptional people in the course of our search, and all of us on the Committee, and on the Board of Trustees, were truly inspired by President-elect Mandel during the selection process.

We look forward to welcoming President-elect Mandel for a visit to campus in early April, and will provide details as soon as the agenda is confirmed. In the meantime, you can begin to get to know her by exploring the materials on the announcement website.

Congratulations to President-elect Mandel, and best wishes to all of us as we begin this next chapter in the extraordinary history of Williams College.

With warm best regards,

Michael Eisenson ’77
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
Chair, Williams College Board of Trustees

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#1 Comment By anonymous On March 13, 2018 @ 11:47 am

Wow. At first blush appears decent. This is NOT what I was expecting, and I am very relieved. Maybe Williams can heal now.

#2 Comment By Disappointed On March 13, 2018 @ 11:59 am

I think it would definitely be worth time to examine her achievements and how they could fit into the context of the present Williams, but the routine statistical head-butting, context-trimming “analysis” would not be useful; she has done a lot in her leadership as Dean of the College of Brown University – from making liberal arts a more career-relevant form of undergraduate study to improving the experiences of first-generation / underrepresented students, she brings a very impressive track-record to the College. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.

#3 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 13, 2018 @ 11:59 am

This seems a sensible choice, with no obvious red flags.

I am sad, however, that Park and Siniawer lost out.

#4 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 13, 2018 @ 12:02 pm

> very impressive track-record to the College.

Really? Again, I am pro-Mandel, not least because there are signs that she will be much more in favor of free speech than either Falk or Majumder were. But no useless spinning, please!

What direct evidence do you have that, relative to the relevant peer group, Mandel has an impressive track record as Dean at Brown? Was she, for example, much more accomplished than her predecessors? Was she much better at Deaning than, say, the Deans of College at Princeton and Harvard?

#5 Comment By Disappointed On March 13, 2018 @ 12:52 pm


Just read the damn announcement and you’ll see everything she’s done – that’s pretty impressive regardless of what the Harvard / Princeton deans have done and given that what she added was new, that shows distinction from previous deans of the College at Brown. I have no incentive to spin her appointment.

#6 Comment By ZSD On March 13, 2018 @ 1:06 pm

Please, not a week of spinning gold into straw!

#7 Comment By Tom Foolery On March 13, 2018 @ 1:16 pm

Another liberal race and gender acolyte. Of course it was going to be a woman-what kind of moron not living on planet earth would have thought otherwise? It’s the “in” thing to do in academia,and, of course, she checks all the appropriate left wing political boxes. Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing they do not hear. Another generation of brainwashed children.

#8 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 13, 2018 @ 1:41 pm

> Another liberal race and gender acolyte.

Evidence?! I agree that Mandel is unlikely to be a Trump-supporter, but I see no reason to think that she is outside of the mainstream of contemporary academia. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Gender and race are important, as every member of the alt-right would agree.

#9 Comment By Tikhon On March 13, 2018 @ 2:38 pm

Slathering with a rather broad brush there, aren’t we, ‘Tom’? I know her work–and actually know her personally–and there’s zippo evidence for your inflammatory claims.

#10 Comment By Tom Foolery On March 13, 2018 @ 2:43 pm

“In her scholarship, President-elect Mandel examines the ways policies and practices of inclusion and exclusion in 20th-century France have affected ethnic and religious minorities.”

She could run the Davis Center in her spare time. It’s all part of the victim mentality that has taken hold in academia. No idea what you are talking about in reference to trump or the alt-right. Is there an alt-left or are those just smart moderate people who know everything?

#11 Comment By frank uible On March 13, 2018 @ 2:54 pm

Why don’t we all hold our water and allow time to tell us?

#12 Comment By Tikhon On March 13, 2018 @ 2:58 pm

“In her scholarship, President-elect Mandel examines the ways policies and practices of inclusion and exclusion in 20th-century France have affected ethnic and religious minorities.”

And we have no idea what you’re talking about. There’s nothing here about victim mentality. Are you arguing that such subjects are off-limits for study? Public policies are matters of record. Why shouldn’t anyone–regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum–be able to subject them to analysis?

#13 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On March 13, 2018 @ 3:05 pm

> know her personally

Tikhon: Please tell us about Mandel! Nothing private, of course. Just give us a sense of the person behind the announcement puffery.

Tom Foolery: You need to try harder. Mandel’s academic work on Jews in contemporary France hardly indicates much of a “victim mentality.”

#14 Comment By Munzer On March 13, 2018 @ 4:06 pm

I am cautiously optimistic about this choice.

It’s nice to have a Jewish scholar to combat the crazy leftist pro-Palestinian anti-Semitic school of thought has taken hold in some circles.

I have some concern that “inclusion” is code for quotas that sometimes undermine the goal of excellence, but I think we owe her an opportunity to prove herself.

We can always return to harsh criticism if she lets us down like Falk did.

Buh-bye, Adam. Don’t let the Trustee-sponsored BS farewell tour hit you in the ass on the way out.

#15 Comment By JCD 🏝️ On March 13, 2018 @ 5:36 pm

On the positive side, she has studied the plight of Armenians in France. I’ve always thought that I did not get enough affirmative action cred due to my Armenian background back when I was a full-time scholar and faculty member. It also appears that she did well on Rate My Professor where she scores 4.7 with a difficulty level of 3.6. She scored way above the average Brown professor. See, https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=417276

On the downside, she does not seem to have any fundraising experience. It doesn’t look like she knows how to ask for money face-to-face. It maybe that the school’s stock portfolio is doing so well that the Trustees decided they would be okay with an inexperienced, novice fundraiser.

I’m concerned that she took a very long time to write her book, Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict. As she reports, it took her about 12 years to get it into print. After years of historical research she predictably comes to the conclusion that it is best to understand Muslim attacks on Jews in the context of French colonialism (yawn) instead of the obvious stipulations in the Qu’ran demanding faithful Muslims go after the Jews.

An interview with Maud S. Mandel, author of Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict

I’m also concerned that she is a historian. This is a field where pairing 250 page drafts into 40 page drafts is apparently more prized than coming up with simple, testable hypotheses which – for better or worse – advance science. I think would have been better for Williams College to hire someone with a science background who has published peer-reviewed scientific articles. Hopefully, Williams College will benefit from having a storyteller and interpreter in its top administrative post.

My concern comes from my personal experience of watching the first female, affirmative action historian to become president of Occidental College quickly crash and burn. Apparently, she had a more deliberative administrative style than the aggressive, entrepreneurial one the role required.

Occidental president decides to step down

On the most positive side, I can hope that the vulnerable young conservatives and Republicans at Williams College will win support from her based on her intolerance for placing everyone, including Muslims, into tiny little boxes. Perhaps she will see these courageous young men and women as folks who are not all bad – certainly not enemies of humanity – and will extend them proper protection from the leftist mob which flourished under Falk’s command.

#16 Comment By Solomon On March 13, 2018 @ 6:46 pm

She seems to be extremely accomplished, wise, and has a demonstrated passion for the liberal arts.

Based on the announcement text and some preliminary research into her initiatives at Brown, it seemed that she is well-liked and respected.

Excellent choice to follow Adam Falk.

And please, why must everyone inject politics into this conversation?

President-elect Mandel is a champion of the values we hold dear to Williams, placing an emphasis on a broad liberal arts education and a commitment to academic and social excellence.

Let us leave it at that.

#17 Comment By Fendertweed On March 13, 2018 @ 8:02 pm


Since you threw this out … Frank Oakley was a historian and President of Williams.

Based on your reasoning did he set a precedent in failing along your lines? Or did he succeed, regardless of being a historian?

These are not trick questions, just testing some broad assertions with the hindsight of facts and history (whether or not they’re 100% the same thing).

And IMO relevant: you want another scientist to follow Falk, a failed [widely perceived] President/scientist?

#18 Comment By Tom Foolery On March 14, 2018 @ 9:49 am

Yes, let’s come back to this in a year and see where things stand. I say it will be mostly business as usual and the pc culture will continue in full force although it is so deeply embedded now it would be hard for anyone to change.

#19 Comment By Fendertweed On March 14, 2018 @ 1:48 pm


Sure, maybe it will give you time to see if you can set aside your apparent political agenda for purposes of this discussion.

#20 Comment By Fendertweed On March 16, 2018 @ 5:19 pm

JCD crickets …. sigh.

#21 Comment By Fendertweed On March 25, 2018 @ 4:34 pm

@JCD …. more crickets … ;-o