College appoints Lafargue as Davis Center director starting in the upcoming semester

Ferentz Lafrague has been appointed as the new director of the Davis Center, beginning in fall 2014. (Photo courtesy of WNYC.com)
Ferentz Lafrague has been appointed as the new director of the Davis Center, beginning in fall 2014. (Photo courtesy of WNYC.com)

On Feb. 19, Vice President of Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity Michael Reed announced the appointment of the new Davis Center director. After a national search, the search committee, consisting of several faculty members, students and staff, has named Ferentz Lafargue as director of the Davis Center, which is a vibrant and diverse unit on campus that aims at strengthening the College’s commitment to inclusion and advancement of numerous diversity initiatives that will engage and empower the College community. The appointment of Lafrague concludes an extensive search for a new director in the Davis Center.

Lafargue is currently a faculty member in the History and Social Sciences Department at Georgetown Day School. He is also a memoirist (author of Songs in the Key of My Life) and essayist exploring politics of New York and of the United States has a B.A. in English literature and Africana studies from Queens College (CUNY) and has a PhD in Africana studies and American studies from Yale. He has given presentations at numerous colleges and universities, including the College; Dartmouth; University of California, Riverside and University of California, Irvine.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to get to know the Williams community. I’ve presented here in the past, and I think [the position] gives me the chance to work with great faculty and students,” said Lafargue. “The mission of the Davis Center is close to my heart. I have a PhD in Africana studies. The Davis Center’s commitment to diversity, multiculturalism, social justice and scholarly inquiry is near and dear to my heart. For my first year [at the College], I want to get a sense of the community. I have no long term plans as of yet.”

Before the College community welcomes Lafargue and his family to Williamstown in July, Professor of German Gail Newman, will be directing the Davis Center along with the Davis Center staff, who are looking forward to collaborating with Lafargue. “We were looking for a person to help continue and add on to the vision left by the previous director, Lili Rodriguez,” Assistant Director of the Davis Center Taj Smith said. “The new director will be an invaluable member to our team as we look to assess and improve our current services for MinCo [Minority Coalition] students, as well as introduce new programming that speaks to cross-campus collaboration and encourages non-MinCo identified students to think more about intercultural exchange, power, privilege and social justice.”

Wilmer Montesdeoca ’17, who attended the talks of three candidates, noted that he found all of them impressive, but he especially liked Lafargue for his vision. “I saw him to be the most interested in incorporating the ideas of students. He understands that we are the driving force of change,” Montesdeoca said. He believes that the appointment of Lafargue will have a positive impact on our community. “I am certain that we are taking the steps to become a more democratic and multicultural campus,” he said.