Maud S. Mandel, Williams’ 18th president, earned her B.A. from Oberlin College in 1989 and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan in 1993 and 1998, respectively. She moved to Brown University as a visiting assistant professor, eventually becoming professor of history and Judaic studies and dean of the college—roles in which she served until joining Williams as president in July 2018.
In her first year at Williams, President Mandel began introducing elements of a new vision for the college, through an approach rooted in collaboration with faculty, students, staff and alumni. She launched a major initiative on free speech and inclusion, leading to a faculty statement affirming the college’s commitment to both values. She initiated a community-wide strategic planning effort that has engaged faculty, staff, students, alumni, families and friends in the project of imagining Williams’ future. With support from the Board of Trustees, she introduced a provision allowing aided students to waive one summer of earnings contribution, enabling them to devote more time to research, internships and other educational opportunities. And she has strongly encouraged the college’s increased attention to transfer students as part of our diverse campus community.
An accomplished historian, President Mandel has devoted her scholarship to examining how policies and practices of inclusion and exclusion in 20th-century France have affected ethnic and religious minorities: most notably Jews, Armenians and Muslim North Africans. She has explored these themes in publications including In the Aftermath of Genocide: Armenians and Jews in Twentieth-Century France (Duke University Press, 2003) and Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict (Princeton University Press, 2014). She was also a co-editor of Colonialism and the Jews (Indiana University Press, 2017). Her scholarship has been recognized with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Philosophical Society, among others.
In addition to her work as Williams’ president, Mandel holds the title of Professor of History and teaches as frequently as her schedule allows, including tutorials. She lives in Williamstown with her husband, Steve Simon, and their children, Lev and Ava.