Sarah Willie-LeBreton has been selected as the twelfth president of Smith College, the highly rated liberal arts educational institution for women in Northampton, Massachusetts. She will take office on July 1, 2023.
Smith College enrolls more than 2,500 undergraduate students and nearly 400 graduate students according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up 6 percent of the undergraduate student body.
Of her appointment, Dr. Willie-LeBreton said, “I am thrilled to be joining the Smith College community. The commitment of extraordinary educators on the faculty and staff, passionate and curious students, devoted alums, and generous trustees and friends offer models of scholarship, engagement, leadership, and philanthropy that inspire me.
“The promise of education is not just the creation of knowledge, but the model of how to share it for our mutual liberation and the collective good,” Dr. Willie-Lebreton continued. “We tend to be more aware of injustice when it crashes in upon our lives, more aware of misogyny, racism, and other forms of oppression when they circumscribe our possibilities, and more aware of the fragility of democracy when its admittedly young promise brought to us through the liberation struggles of its subdominant people is so clearly threatened. But so, too, are we more aware of knowledge when we participate in its co-creation, more appreciative of empathy when we receive it, more devoted to the liberal arts when we experience the power of mutually-informing disciplines.”
Dr. Willie-LeBreton currently serves as provost and dean of the faculty at Swarthmore College, where she has taught since 1997. Earlier, she served on the faculty at Colby College in Maine and Bard College in New York.
A sociologist who studies social inequality and race and ethnicity, Dr. Willie-LeBreton is known for her commitment to the liberal arts, strengthening community, and energizing the work of equity and inclusion. She is the author of Acting Black: College, Identity, and the Performance of Race (Routledge, 2003).
Dr. Willie-Lebreton earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Haverford College in Pennsylvania. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.