Dean of the College Maud S. Mandel named 18th president of Williams College

After 20 years on the Brown faculty and a four-year tenure stewarding the academic experience for Brown's 6,500 undergraduates, Mandel will lead Williams as president beginning in July 2018.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Board of Trustees at Williams College has named Maud S. Mandel, dean of the college at Brown and a longtime University professor of history and Judaic Studies, its 18th president.

Mandel will become the next leader of the venerable liberal arts college, home to approximately 2,000 undergraduates on its Williamstown, Mass., campus in the Berkshires, effective July 1, 2018.

“Both inside the classroom and as a senior academic leader, Maud Mandel’s impact on the undergraduate experience at Brown has been nothing short of transformative,” said Brown University President Christina Paxson. “Maud is a deeply knowledgeable higher education leader, a relentless champion for undergraduates and a truly inspiring colleague. We have been fortunate that she has made Brown her home for the last two decades, and I commend Williams College on its outstanding selection for its next president.”

As the steward of the undergraduate academic experience at Brown, Mandel has overseen curricular and advising programs that pair Brown’s distinctive brand of teaching and learning with opportunities for research, internships, international travel and community-based learning.

Scene from Summer Research Symposium
Among many efforts that provide Brown students the opportunity to complement classroom study with hands-on learning, Mandel oversees undergraduate research initiatives at the University. Here, she speaks with Layla Abdulla at the Summer Research Symposium.

Among many significant accomplishments, Mandel led the establishment of the Brown Learning Collaborative, a program to strengthen student learning in core liberal arts competencies (including writing, reading, research, data analysis, problem solving and public speaking) through a peer-to-peer approach. She also oversaw a collaborative process with students and staff to open the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center (the FLiCenter), which officially opened in fall 2016 as one of the first centers of its kind in the country and created a set of programs to support high-need students financially and academically.

In addition, Mandel created Brown’s first Wintersession program; launched BrownConnect, a funded internship program and networking platform; oversaw a transition at the Swearer Center that more directly integrates student work with the external community with their academic interests; and developed 1stY@Brown, an online course that prepares incoming students for success in Brown’s innovative Open Curriculum.

Mandel said she has enjoyed the opportunity to help shape the experiences of students at Brown, while the University had its own influence on her as an educator as well.

“When I first arrived at Brown in 1997, I could never have imagined how much this institution would shape me and how deeply I would come to love it,” Mandel said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to share this campus with the hundreds of brilliant scholars, educators, students and staff that constitute Brown’s intensely vibrant intellectual community. Although I am leaving, I will take with me all that they have taught me about research and learning and making a difference in the world.”

Mandel arrived at Brown in 1997 as a visiting assistant professor of modern Jewish history. She became an associate professor of history and Judaic studies in 2005, director of Brown’s program in Judaic studies in 2012 and a full professor in 2014. In July 2014, Mandel became Brown’s senior undergraduate academic officer as dean of the college.

In addition to leading undergraduate curricular programming, advising and instruction, Mandel served as a leader across the Brown community in her two decades at the University. She participated in and led more than a dozen search processes (including for dean of admission) and chaired committees and working groups ranging from the Task Force on Diversity in the Curriculum, to the Enrollment Management Committee, to the Committee to Review Brown’s Academic Code Policies and Procedures.

VIDEO: Six Questions with Williams College President-Elect Maud S. Mandel (Williams College video)

Three core principles have guided her work as dean of the college, Mandel said.

“The focus of my work has been encouraging students to reach the highest levels of academic excellence in foundational liberal arts competencies, including critical reading, writing, data analysis and problem-solving; providing experiential learning opportunities for undergraduates to engage in hands-on learning in laboratories, community organizations, businesses and government; and creating an inclusive campus culture that welcomes differences that students, faculty and staff bring to campus,” she said.

Provost Richard M. Locke, to whom the dean of the college reports, said Mandel’s leadership has been instrumental in sustaining Brown’s ability to offer the best residential liberal arts education available at a major research university.

“Maud Mandel has played a leading role in helping to shape undergraduate education at Brown, not just for students on campus today, but for generations to come,” Locke said. “I can’t think of a more talented academic administrator to lead a college with as strong a liberal arts tradition as Williams.”

The leadership at Williams is excited to bring an educator and leader with Mandel’s passion to Brown, said Michael Eisenson, chair of the Williams Board of Trustees and chair of the presidential search committee.

“Maud embodies the values at our core and will provide exceptional leadership as we continue to pursue our shared aspirations for Williams,” Eisenson said.

Mandel earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Oberlin College in 1989 and graduate degrees in history from the University of Michigan (M.A., 1993; Ph.D., 1998). Much of her scholarly work has centered on France since the mid-20th century and on its experience with multiculturalism, immigration, modernity, post-Holocaust European history, genocide, Muslim-Jewish relations, and nationalism. At Brown, she has taught courses on the history of the Holocaust, Zionism and the birth of the state of Israel, and anti-Semitism, among other topics.

Mandel is also a widely published researcher. Her monograph, “In the Aftermath of Genocide: Armenians and Jews in Twentieth Century France,” was published by Duke University Press in 2003. Her book, “Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict,” was published by Princeton University Press in January 2014 and has been awarded fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Philosophical Society. Her most recent article, “Anti-Jewish Violence in Tunisia before Decolonization,” appeared in her co-edited volume [with Ethan B. Katz and Lisa Moses Leff], “Colonialism and the Jews,” published by Indiana University Press in 2017.

Brown will establish plans for a search for Mandel’s successor this spring.