Valerie Smith, who took office as the 15th president of highly rated Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania on July 1, 2015, has had her contract extended through 2025. President Smith stated, “I’m deeply honored by the opportunity to continue to be part of the Swarthmore community,. I draw great inspiration from the passion of our students, our faculty, our staff, and our alumni, and look forward to many more successes in the years ahead.”
In 2015, the year Dr. Smith became president of Swarthmore, African Americans made up 8 percent of the entering class. This year, the Black percentage of the first-year class is 11 percent.
Before becoming president of Swarthmore College, Dr. Smith was dean of the college and the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature at Princeton University. 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 Lewiston, 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).