Carol Christ Resigning as President

23Feb12

The news is out… Carol Christ has announced that she will resign as President of Smith College in June 2013. Smith has launched an official 12-person search committee to find Smith’s 11th president.

(Upon hearing this, my immediate reaction was, “Leaving? Already? Why, she was just inaugurated in… oh, 2002.. ten years ago…” Time absolutely flies.)

According to the Sophian, Christ said that one of her most notable accomplishments during her tenure as president was the increase in campus diversity, saying, “Smith has become much more diverse. 13% of the class of 2015 are international students and a third are U.S. women of color. A decade ago 8% of our students were international, and 21% were U.S. women of color.”

What do you think Christ’s biggest accomplishments were? Failures? What goals or qualities would you like to see on the the table for the next Smith president?

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9 Responses to “Carol Christ Resigning as President”

  1. Ah, Carol…the president of statistical speeches. She never did give a talk that contained actual words. – ’08

  2. Carol Christ’s biggest failure, I think, was how she has interacted with trans men and other gender nonconforming people in the Smith community. I sincerely hope that the next Smith president will find a way to address the concerns of the community in a way that respects the dignity of all Smith community members, values social justice principles, reinforces the integrity of the college, and maintains Smith’s commitment to educating women. It’s a tall order, but I trust it can be done. I expect it to be done.

    • 3 Kate

      Smith has always demonstrated a strong commitment to educating “women”. Your complaint appears to be related to “trans men” and other “gender nonconforming people” — I believe those are distinct from “women.”

      I hope you have a very strong personal commitment to Smith’s endowment, because alums 15+ years (the ones who actually financially support Smith) are completely turned off.

      • 4 Ann

        Same from an ’80.

      • Kate–

        Your response goes directly to the heart of what I consider Smith’s biggest future challenge: What does it mean to be an institution dedicated to educating women? Is the term women bound strictly by gender/sex? Is there room at a single-sex institution for those that are trans* and/or genderqueer/non-conforming? Is that outside the mission? What about the students who aren’t women who are already there (and the alums who have already graduated)? How does Smith respond to the current genderscape of its students and alums with thoughtfulness and integrity?

        I don’t have the answers. I’ve been thinking about this issue since I attended Smith (2001-2005) and still don’t have a good answer. What I do know is that I think it is of the utmost importance that Smith create policies and procedures around this, so that the question is addressed at a high level and not on a person-by-person basis. It’s hard, and I think Smith has shied away from addressing it exactly because it can be an emotional and polarizing issue.

        Sarah

  3. I was most disappointed by the revamp of the dining system and the gutting of the religious life. By the guidance of the talented and generous Jennifer Walters, Hellen Hills Hills has managed to land on her feet. The dining restructuring, however, took away one of the Smith College particulars that once set the school apart. I hope whoever comes next can manage an endowment without undermining stabilizing communal structures that make Smith great.

    I am glad President Christ made diversity a priority. Hopefully her successor will develop this vision of a truly diverse Smith College.

    • Here’s another vote of love for Jennifer Walters. She started at Smith my first year (2001), and the way she responded to the September 11th attacks blew me away. I was an instant fan, and have continued to be.


  1. 1 Pearls & Cashmere at Smith College « Association of Smith College Alum Blogs
  2. 2 Carol Christ Retiring from Smith College « Association of Smith College Alum Blogs

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