Eric Estes joined the Brown community as vice president for campus life in July of 2016. He oversees a large division that supports all students (undergraduate, graduate, and medical school students) and in some cases faculty and staff. The division centers its work on building inclusive community, providing developmental advising and mentoring, fostering health and wellness, and empowering connections between co-curricular and curricular learning making both more meaningful. He also has a faculty appointment in American studies.
Prior to Brown, he worked at Oberlin College and Conservatory for 12 years serving his last 5 years as vice president and dean of students. As vice president and dean, he prioritized a number of areas including: improving and expanding the range of and access to health, disability, and counseling resources; strengthening the class dean system - the core of developmental advising and mentoring; expanding and empowering peer education and mentoring programs; creating more resources to support students with high financial need; imbedding diversity and inclusion in the work of the division; and building a culture of department-level reviews to enhance strategic visioning and planning efforts. He also served as an associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, an associate dean in Student Life, and was the longest serving director of the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) in its more than 20-year history. The MRC renamed its annual recognition of a faculty or staff member who has made significant career contributions to the success of students, especially historically underrepresented students, the “Eric Estes Living Legacy Award” in 2017.
As a member of the faculty, he was an assistant professor in comparative American studies (CAS) with a courtesy appointment in history. Other academic appointments and roles included faculty affiliate of the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (GSFS), acting chair of an academic department, pre-major and major advisor, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow mentor, honors thesis advisor and reader, and long-serving member of the CAS and GSFS interdisciplinary faculty program committees. Funded by a Shansi Memorial Association Faculty-in-Asia Grant in the summer of 2008, he was a visiting scholar at Shanxi Agricultural University in China giving several university-wide lectures and an invited talk to faculty at the Summer Institute for the Study of the United States at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
Prior to Oberlin, Estes held faculty and administrative positions at Duke and Syracuse Universities. While on the faculty at Duke, he chaired a presidential task force on LGBT matters, served on a presidential commission on the status of women, and was a faculty affiliate of the Center for LGBT Life. At Syracuse, he worked for three years in the Graduate School on professional development programs for graduate students and junior faculty focused on excellence in undergraduate teaching. He was also a member of grant writing teams for funded proposals to the NSF and NASA to advance undergraduate teaching in STEM fields, and the Graduate School’s lead coordinator for a funded multi-division proposal to the U.S. Department of Education’s McNair Scholars Program. He also taught for three years in the History Department at LeMoyne College.
He was a Fulbright doctoral fellow to Germany, and received grants from the Ebert and Mellon Foundations, German Historical Institute, and the DAAD. He also received travel, research, and or teaching grants and fellowships from Duke and Syracuse Universities and Oberlin and Smith Colleges. His work has been recognized by teaching and or service awards from Syracuse, Duke, and Oberlin. At Syracuse, Duke, and Oberlin, he co/taught courses on modern Germany and the Holocaust, gender and mass violence, gender and sexuality, athletics and U.S. culture, and connections between Oberlin’s early missionary history in China and Asian American student activism at the college. He also sponsored practicums for graduate students in the higher education program at Bowling Green State University.
He has given invited lectures and talks at schools like Duke, Hamilton, Holy Cross, Kenyon, Michigan, Trinity, and Vassar, and nationally at AAC&U, ACPA, ACUHO-I, Creating Change, COFHE Academic and Student Services Conference, Council of Independent Colleges CAOs and CSAOs Conference, NASPA Region I, and NASPA. He also has given invited lectures and workshops internationally at Beijing Foreign Studies University, Shanxi Agricultural University, and United International College in China, and the University of Barcelona in Spain. He has collaborated to organize a number of major academic and student life conferences and symposia including Race and Resistance 1858-2008: Activists and Allies (2008), Claiming Spaces and Transforming Places: Reflection, Engagement, and Leadership in Diverse Communities (2009), Immigration Tomorrow (2010), Consortium for Faculty Diversity Annual Conference (2011), Fostering Civic, Intercultural, and Ethical Learning (2011), Doing the Work in Uncertain Times: Navigating Current Challenges and Opportunities to Transform Institutional Culture and Support Students (2017), and From Surviving to Thriving: How We Empower Inclusive Well-Being on Our Campuses (2018).
In addition to his work within academic institutions, Estes is a leader in the field of higher education including national organizations and consortia. He is currently the president of the Trinity College Alumni Association and a member of the Trinity College Board of Trustees (2019-2021). He served as vice president of the alumni board from 2017-2019 and as a member of the board since 2014. He served a three-year elected term as chair of the steering board for the Consortium on High Achievement and Success (CHAS) and now serves for a three-year term as chair emeritus. CHAS is the oldest and largest national organization dedicated to the academic success of students of color at institutions dedicated to liberal arts education. He has served on the steering board of CHAS since 2009. He was elected chair of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) Committee for Institutional Commitment to Educational Equity (2010-2012) having served as a member of the committee from 2004-2010. He also served two terms on the Shansi Memorial Association board of trustees (2008-2016) including as interim board chair in 2012. He currently interviews candidates for the Lenfest Scholars Program - an organization focused on first generation college and high financial need students from rural Pennsylvania. He has been a leader and member of external review teams for a number of peer institutions and served as a past reviewer for the Fulbright Senior and U.S. Specialists Program.
Estes earned a M.A. and Ph.D. in history at Syracuse University, and a B.A. with honors in history at Trinity College. He later earned a CAAP certification from the American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity and is a certified mediator.