Valerie Smith, president of the highly rated Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, was the recipient of an honorary doctor of letters degree from Hong Kong Baptist University. The citation for the degree stated that “upon her arrival at Swarthmore, she identified several priorities, including attracting more low-income and first-generation students for an exceptional undergraduate experience. She has also cited a strong commitment to curricular innovation and to strengthening relationships between the College and the region.”
Dr. Smith became president of Swarthmore College on July 1, 2015. Previously, she served as dean of the college and the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature at Princeton University in New Jersey. Professor Smith first joined the Princeton faculty in 1980 as instructor in English. She was awarded tenure in 1986. Dr. Smith left Princeton in 1989 to join the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles. She returned to Princeton in 2001 and a year later was named chair of the African American studies program. Dr. Smith was named dean in 2011.
Dr. Smith is a graduate of Bates College in Maine and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. She is the author or editor of several books including Not Just Race, Not Just Gender: Black Feminist Readings (Routledge, 1998) and Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative (Harvard University Press, 1987).