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President Maud Mandel, 3

Brown Dean of the College Maud Mandel begins her term as the 18th president of Williams on July 1. EphBlog welcomes her! We are pro-Mandel and hope that her presidency is successful. (Full disclosure, our preference would have been for an internal candidate like Lee Park or Eiko Siniawer.) Let’s spend some time discussing what we know about Mandel so far. Day 3.

From the College’s news release:

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.

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.

Most of the news release is the sort of fluff that we would expect in such an announcement. Mandel is wonderful! Williams is wonderful! We will all be even more wonderful together! The above paragraphs are the only substance. Possibilities:

1) Jim Reische is filling space with whatever material he has at hand. Those activities were part of Mandel’s CV, or at least the package that search firm Spencer Stuart prepared for her as they shopped her around the presidential market. But they aren’t, really, important to her or to the Williams search committee that selected her. They tell us little/nothing about what to expect over the next few years.

2) These achievements were among the primary reasons that the search committee selected Mandel. They felt that Williams was not doing nearly enough about problems associated with URM under-representation in STEM (and/or the other items) and wanted a president who would make tackling them her highest priority.

3) These projects were truly important to Mandel. She wanted the job as dean precisely because she saw certain problems at Brown. She identified and fought for these improvements. Since every school, including Williams, can do better along these dimensions, these will be her highest priorities as Williams president.

My guess is that 2) is not true. Virtually every dean/provost at every elite college/university can point to similar projects/achievements. Mandel’s tenure as Dean is completely typical in that regard. So, it is unlikely that these played a meaningful role in her selection. (I would feel otherwise if she had done something unusual and/or if the search committee signaled us more clearly. For example, if Mandel had come from Harvey Mudd it might have been because the search committee wanted Williams to create an engineering major.)

I don’t have a sense of how much Mandel truly cared about these projects at Brown — I am sure she was in favor, but were they the source of her passion for the job? — or how much of these she will bring to Williams.

What do readers think?