Valerie Smith

President at Swarthmore College

Valerie Smith

Valerie Smith

President at Swarthmore College

Biography

Valerie Smith, a distinguished scholar of African-American literature, is the 15th president of Swarthmore College. Smith’s significant priorities at Swarthmore include attracting more low-income and first-generation students, innovating the curriculum, increasing diversity, and strengthening relationships between the College and the region. Under Smith, the College has been a leader in sustainability initiatives such as carbon pricing. She has also led the charge to reimagine numerous spaces on campus and invest in new facilities such as the Biology, Engineering, and Psychology building.

President Smith began her career in higher education in 1980 at Princeton, where she rose through the ranks from an instructor to an associate professor of English and Afro-American Studies. In 1989, she joined the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as first an associate professor, then professor of English, and eventually serving as chair of UCLA’s Interdepartmental Program in African-American Studies. She returned to Princeton in 2001 as the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and Professor of English and African American Studies. She later served as founding director of the Center for African American Studies and the dean of the college, the position she held before arriving at Swarthmore in 2015.

President Smith is the recipient of fellowships from the Fletcher Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She also received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton in 2009.

President Smith is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bates College and holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia. She is the author of more than 40 articles and three books on African-American literature, culture, film, and photography, and is the editor or co-editor of seven volumes. Her most recent publications are Toni Morrison: Writing the Moral Imagination; The Norton Anthology of African-American Literature (third edition), edited with Henry Louis Gates Jr.; and Race and Real Estate, edited with Adrienne Brown.

Smith has served on the boards of Bates College, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, and the McCarter Theater Center, and on the editorial boards of Women's Studies Quarterly, Criticism, and African American Review. She is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of Second Nature and Fulbright Canada. Under her leadership, the College is in the midst of a $450 million comprehensive campaign, Changing Lives, Changing the World.

Overview
Career Highlights

Swarthmore College

RelSci Relationships

3294

Number of Boards

3

Relationships
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Mari S. Michener Professor, Art History at Swarthmore College

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Provost & Associate Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College

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Dean at Princeton University - School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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Chairman at Equidex, Inc.

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Vice President & Dean of Admissions at Swarthmore College

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Director, Institutional Research at Swarthmore College

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Former Vice President, Campus Life at Princeton University

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Owner at Swarthmore College

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Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University - Teachers College

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Former President at Bates College

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Valerie Smith
President at Swarthmore College
Education
Ph.D

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is one of the world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs.The Darden School improves the world by developing and inspiring responsible leaders and by advancing knowledge.The unique Darden experience combines the case study method, the highest-ranked faculty whose research advances global managerial practice and business education, and a tight-knit learning environment to develop principled and complete leaders.

Undergraduate Degree

Bates College is a private liberal arts college located in Lewiston, Maine, in the United States. The college was founded in 1855 by abolitionists. Bates College is one of the first colleges in the United States to be coeducational from establishment, and is also the oldest continuously operating coeducational institution in New England. Originally a Free Will Baptist institution, Bates is now a nonsectarian institution

Memberships
Life Member
Current

Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. provides and disseminates ideas on foreign policies to individuals, corporate members, journalists and policy makers. It operates a forum for government officials, students and other interested parties to study and discuss world issues and impact on American foreign policies. The company publishes Foreign Affairs, a magazine that comes out six times a year, along with books and studies by its own scholars. Council on Foreign Relations was founded in 1921 and is headquartered in New York City, NY.

Career History
President
2015 - Current

Since its founding in 1864, Swarthmore College has given students the knowledge, insight, skills, and experience to become leaders for the common good. Offering a liberal arts and engineering curriculum, the College is private, yet open to all regardless of financial need. It is also decidedly global in outlook, drawing students from around the world and all 50 states. The diversity of perspectives represented by Swarthmore students, faculty, and staff - including different viewpoints, identities, and histories - contributes to the community's strong sense of open dialogue and engagement with ideas and issues. So much of what Swarthmore stands for, from its commitment to curricular breadth and rigor to its demonstrated interest in facilitating discovery and fostering social responsibility, lies in the quality and passion of its faculty. A student/faculty ratio of 8:1 ensures that students have close, meaningful engagement with their professors, preparing the former to translate the skills and understanding gained at Swarthmore into the mark they want to make on the world. The College's Honors program features small groups of dedicated and accomplished students working closely with faculty; an emphasis on independent learning; ongoing dialogue between students and their peers, teachers, and examiners; and an examination at the end of two years' study by outside scholars. Swarthmore's idyllic, 425-acre arboretum campus features rolling lawns, a creek, wooded hills, and hiking trails, and is located just 11 miles from Philadelphia.

Dean of the College
Prior - 2015

Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation's service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching. Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,000 undergraduate students and 2,500 graduate students. The University's generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

Political Donations
$250
2012

Former President of United States

$300
2011

Former President of United States

$1,000
2008

Former President of United States

Other Affiliations

Valerie Smith is affiliated with Swarthmore College, Princeton University

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