From the President

Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Search

The following message was sent to Faculty, Staff, and Students on January 13, 2021.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Bennington College is preparing to launch a search for the next Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and I am delighted that Tonya Strong, Director of Admissions, has agreed to serve as the chair of the search committee. I am grateful to Tonya for taking on this important role and know that she has a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion work. Tonya will work collaboratively with the search firm Spelman Johnson, to lead the search committee and she will be responsible for providing the campus community with periodic updates on the search committee’s progress. In addition to Tonya, the members of the search committee include: Tinashe Chiura ‘23 (student), Jude Higdon (staff), Ginger Lin (faculty), Amie McClellan (faculty), Farhad Mirza ‘12 (faculty), Ann Pibal (faculty), Mady Wilson ‘22 (student), and Christine Winget (staff). This hiring decision is critical to the short and long-term future of Bennington as we commit to advancing the diversity and excellence of the faculty, staff, student body, and alumni, and to creating a community that is actively and intentionally antiracist, in which everyone can flourish—academically, emotionally, physically, spiritually.

Given the importance of this search, we are conducting a national search. Spelman Johnson is a highly respected search firm in higher education with emphasis on recruiting diversity, equity and inclusion, student affairs and enrollment management leaders. We will work directly with Michel Frendian, search consultant. Michel has over 30 years of experience in higher education - he served in both vice president and dean roles, which gives him a unique view into the candidates and their backgrounds.

Your participation in the search process will be crucial to its success. In order to gain an in-depth understanding of the campus community needs, Michel Frendian will be inviting all faculty, students and staff to share their feedback about the role and the priorities for the next vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. Campus members will be invited to attend virtual meetings and will be invited to complete a brief, anonymous and confidential survey. However you choose to participate, we welcome and encourage your thoughts and suggestions. Invitations to participate in this process will be sent out in the very near future.

Thank you for the enthusiasm and dedication so many of you have demonstrated for these critical inclusion initiatives. Your compassion and care for one another in a time of heightened anxiety has made us stronger as a community and will serve us well in this work. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Tonya Strong.

Laura Walker