Yesterday, the Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Maud S. Mandel as the College’s 18th president. Mandel, who will be the College’s first female president, was unanimously selected by a Board vote on Sunday. Currently dean of the college and professor of history and Judaic studies at Brown, Mandel will assume duties from Interim President Protik Majumder on July 1.
Board of Trustees and Presidential Search Committee Chair Michael Eisenson ’77 expressed his excitement for Mandel’s appointment in an email to the College community. “She has a distinguished record as a scholar, a teacher and an academic leader, and she has demonstrated throughout her career a deep and abiding affection for the students, faculty and staff who together create a great academic enterprise,” he wrote. “Maud embodies the values at our core and will provide exceptional leadership as we continue to pursue our shared aspirations for Williams.”
Mandel, who received her bachelor’s degree from Oberlin and her master’s and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Michigan, began teaching at Brown in 1997 as a visiting assistant professor in modern Jewish history. She became a permanent faculty member in 2001 and was appointed dean of the college in 2014. Since then, she has chaired the Judaic studies program, held various positions in the history department and taken leadership roles in undergraduate advising and mentoring programs.
The College’s press release quoted Brown President Christina Paxson on the contributions Mandel has made to the institution. “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,” Paxson said.
Mandel has helped further the Brown community in many ways, including working with Brown students and staff to start the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center. Mandel assisted in organizing an internship program and alumni networking tool called BrownConnect, which ensures all Brown undergrads a minimum of one subsidized internship opportunity. She also helped form Wintersession, a program similar to Winter Study, and the Brown Learning Collaborative, an initiative to strengthen the liberal arts at Brown.
Mandel has also helped connect community engagement with the academic curriculum at Brown. She played a role in developing the Engaged Scholars Program, which helps students create their own courses and plans of action tailored to communities and issues they care about. Additionally, she helped develop the Bonner Community Fellows Program, which further allows students to link community and schoolwork.
In a video interview published on the College’s website, Mandel highlighted the importance of campus communities. In response to the question, “What brings you joy?” she replied, “I find tremendous joy in interacting with students and staff and faculty… The communities that we build together, the college campuses that we build together, are such a fascinating mix of diverse peoples who are trying to figure out how to live together, work together and, most importantly, learn together.”
In her field, Mandel’s research centers on ethnic and religious minorities in 20th-century France, focusing specifically on Armenians, Jews and Muslims. She is the author of In the Aftermath of Genocide: Armenians and Jews in 20th-Century France and Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict. She also co-edited a book entitled Colonialism and the Jews. She has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Studies, the American Philosophical Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Mandel’s appointment concludes the presidential search process, which had been ongoing since the announcement of former President Adam Falk’s departure last summer. The Presidential Search Committee consisted of trustees, faculty, alumni and students.
In addition to publishing a press release announcing the decision, the College has included supplementary resources on the website detailing information about Mandel, the search process and more. The site includes multiple statements from Presidential Search Committee members on the appointment. “She will bring tremendous energy and thought to this presidency as a deeply accomplished scholar and strong advocate for the liberal arts,” committee member Sarah Hollinger ’19 said in one such statement. “Our community will continue to thrive and develop under Maud’s leadership.”
Before Mandel begins her tenure on July 1, she will visit the campus in early April. In the video, she expressed excitement for joining the College. “I have incredible memories of the power of my own liberal arts education in launching me. And not just in launching me, but in getting me to think about and ask the key questions that really have shaped my thinking,” she said. “The opportunity to lead this campus into the next phase of its development is really too exciting to pass up.”