Swarthmore College President Rebecca Chopp announced today that Elizabeth Braun, currently dean of students at Mount Holyoke College, will be joining the Swarthmore community as its new dean of students, effective July 1, 2010.
"Liz brings extraordinary experience with her to the College," Chopp says. "She's highly regarded in her field as an emerging leader in the areas of academic support, diversity, and community building. She also shares with us a deep appreciation and respect for intellectual rigor and the power of community and inclusivity. In addition, her interpersonal skills are exceptional - enthusiastic, articulate, collegial, and a strong leader - she is, in short, the perfect fit to become Swarthmore's next dean of students."
Swarthmore's dean of students oversees a team of 37 staff as well as medical and psychological staff. The dean is responsible for developing and overseeing programs that enable students to realize their full intellectual and personal potential and for integrating the student life experience with the College's educational mission.
As dean of students at Mount Holyoke since 2003, Braun has supervised the offices of Residential Life, Student Programs, and Disability Services. She has also worked closely with the dean of the college to create and enhance connections between curricular and co-curricular life. Braun also served as director of residential life at Mount Holyoke from 1999 to 2003, during which time she oversaw a reorganization of the division and significantly enhanced opportunities for student leadership. Her prior work also includes serving as assistant director of residential life at Bowdoin College.
"At the heart of my work has always been a strong belief in the transformative power of a liberal arts education," Braun says. "I am thrilled and honored to be joining Swarthmore, an institution that I have long admired for its intellectual and civic engagement, its commitment to diversity and inclusion, and its unique spirit. I look forward, along with my family, to being an active participant in the life of the community and working with students, faculty, and staff to build on the College's strong tradition as a leader and innovator in the liberal arts tradition."
In addition to the depth of her administrative portfolio, Braun is widely respected in her field and will defend her dissertation, which focuses on issues of diversity in higher education, later this year. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and has an M.A. in English literature from Boston University and a B.A. in English, cum laude, from Mary Washington College.
"Our search process was extensive and ultimately led us to just the right candidate," says Connie Hungerford, provost at Swarthmore and chair of the search committee. "Liz has superior strategic planning skills as well as extensive experience with student programming and development, and she is also attentive to professional development for staff. She will create an atmosphere of mutual respect and caring, strengthen the ties between the many offices and programs within the dean's area, and foster enhanced connections between the academic and co-curricular lives of our students."
At Mount Holyoke, Braun has served the broader community in important ways, including membership on the Multicultural and College Life Advisory Committee, Student Leadership Committee, Alcohol and Drug Advisory Committee, Violence Against Women Committee, and Common Reading Selection Committee. She has also served as a key member of the Emergency Response Team, the Infirmary Protocol Committee, the Residence Hall Master Planning Committee, and the Matriculation Committee. In 2007, she helped coordinate and co-hosted both the annual New England Deans Meeting and a conference to discuss strategies and best practices for promoting intergroup dialogue on college campuses.
"Liz is going to bring a great deal of warmth, energy, and passion to the Swarthmore community. She is truly a Swattie at heart!" says Urooj Khan '10, a student member of the search committee. "Liz is someone who can connect with students, someone who can really engage with us and get to know us on a personal level. I'm excited about the meaningful relationships I know she will develop with the student body at Swarthmore."
Braun will be joined at the College by her husband, Randy, and their 4-year-old son, Dexter.