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Announcement of the election of the eleventh president of Vassar College

January 11, 2017

Dear Members of the Vassar Community,

It is my great pleasure to announce that on Tuesday, January 10, the Board of Trustees unanimously elected Elizabeth Howe Bradley as the eleventh president of Vassar College, effective July 1, 2017. President-elect Bradley will also hold a joint appointment as Professor of Political Science and Professor of Science, Technology, and Society.

Professor Bradley brings a remarkable breadth of experience to the presidency, including a 20-year career as a noted scholar and teacher at Yale University, visionary global leadership in public health, and inspiring work with undergraduates, including as head of one of the largest residential colleges at Yale. In all areas, she has shown extraordinary leadership, combining intellectual commitment and rigor with vision, energy, and administrative talent.

More information, including the press release that is being distributed, and videos are available here.

Search Process. As you likely know, the election of Elizabeth Bradley is the culmination of an extensive, eight-month national search to find the successor to President Catharine Hill, who stepped down in August of last year. Professor Bradley was unanimously nominated to the Board of Trustees by the Presidential Search Committee, which reviewed almost 200 candidates.

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to our colleagues on the committee for their time and thoughtful deliberations. Importantly, I want to acknowledge the extraordinary and tireless leadership of the committee co-chairs, trustees Tony Friscia ’78 P’15 and Geraldine Laybourne ’69 P’93.

In addition to the co-chairs, the search committee members included: Karen Herskovitz Ackman '88, trustee; Conor Flanagan '17; Teresa A. Garrett, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Maryellen Cattani Herringer '65, trustee; Philip N. Jefferson '83, trustee; Jamie Kelly, Associate Professor of Philosophy; Susan Zadek Mandel '78, trustee; Mia Mask, Professor of Film; Peipei Qiu, Professor of Chinese and Japanese; Paul Ruud, Professor of Economics; Ellie Winter '18 and myself. The committee was advised by a senior administrator, Art D. Rodriguez, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, and by the President of the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College, Missie Rennie Taylor ’68. John Feroe, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, served as secretary to the committee.

Meeting the Vassar Community. President-elect Bradley will meet members of the Vassar community on campus at the end of this month, and details about her visit will be announced soon. There will be many opportunities for alumnae/i, parents, and friends of the College to meet Professor Bradley once she takes up her new post.

Interim and Acting Senior Officers. I want to once again publicly thank Jon Chenette for his willingness to assume the role of Interim President during this academic year. He will return to his role as Dean of the Faculty as of July 1. I also want to thank Steve Rock for his service as Acting Dean of the Faculty this year.

Professor Bradley’s Background. Professor Bradley focused on economics and art history as an undergraduate, graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1984. She earned an MBA from the University of Chicago in 1986, and a PhD in Health Policy and Health Economics from Yale University in 1996.

She is currently the Brady-Johnson Professor of Grand Strategy at Yale, a university-wide, interdisciplinary initiative primarily for undergraduates, the goal of which is to develop students’ capacity to lead in addressing pressing global challenges. This innovative program, which employs a comprehensive approach to achieving large ends with limited means, uses disciplines such as history, political science, and classical literature as context for exploring a wide range of current-day challenges, including security, economic inequality, global health, and climate change.

The founder and Faculty Director of Yale’s Global Health Leadership Institute, Professor Bradley is at the forefront of improving health care in the United States and through projects in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Notably, she has been instrumental in helping to transform Ethiopia’s health care system. Her work is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Clinton Foundation. She has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers and three books, including the acclaimed The American Health Care Paradox: Why Spending More Is Getting Us Less.

The academic growth and well-being of students have been central to her work at Yale. As Head of Branford College, she lives with her family among 450 undergraduate students on campus, where they are deeply involved in initiating and fostering a robust intellectual and social community among the residents. She has served on multiple university committees pertaining to student life.

Professor Bradley and her spouse, John Bradley, have three children, ages 24, 21, and 17. John, who has an undergraduate degree from Yale and an MBA from the University of Chicago, has focused his career on urban community-building. He will assume the position of Executive Director of the Vassar College Urban Education Initiative, beginning July 1.

In closing, I want to add how much I look forward to all of us welcoming President-elect Bradley and her family to Vassar. From my first meeting with her, it was clear that in all she has done, she has been committed to bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to develop creative solutions to change people’s lives for the better. Nothing could be more needed in our world or more resonant with our mission at Vassar.

William A. Plapinger ’74 P’10
Chair
Vassar College Board of Trustees