About President Mandel

Portrait of Maud Mandel

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.

President Mandel has engaged the Williams community in articulating a vision for the college’s future through a strategic planning effort involving faculty, staff, students, alumni, families and friends. As one of the early outcomes of the process, Williams became the first school in the nation to launch an all-grant financial aid program. The process also gave rise to strategic academic initiatives that will prepare students for a changing world in a manner reflective of Williams’ liberal arts excellence.

An advocate for educational innovation that combines the best of new and old, she has encouraged important conversations about the educational important of technology and the creative arts. She has advocated effectively for a project, now underway, to support design and build a new home for the Williams College Museum of Art and the integrative arts at Williams. She has also supported faculty-led efforts to advance the curriculum across the humanities, physical and social sciences. As president, she provided administrative support for faculty’s creation of interdisciplinary programs like the new Williams Global Scholars, and their discussions about tapping new potential for the college’s distinctive Winter Study program.

Working with successive deans of the college, Mandel has also supported a major re-envisioning of residential life as a core aspect of students’ education and personal development. She is also encouraging efforts, now in an early stage, to consider how the college can teach students to think about well-being in a holistic and integrated way, encompassing varsity, intramural and club sports; physical education; recreation; mental health; and spiritual pursuits, among other elements.

Under her leadership, Williams continues to support the college’s sustainability work, which in 2022 earned Williams a Gold STARS rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Sustainable building projects that she has initiated, such as the Davis Center effort, capitalize on projects begun before her arrival and now completed, including Garfield House, Fellows Hall, Fort Bradshaw and the Science Center (including both Wachenheim and The Hopper), which are characterized by high-performance, environmentally sustainable designs. The improvements in these new or renewed facilities complement the college’s reductions to carbon output, achieved through initiatives like Williams’ participation in the Farmington (ME) Solar Project.

President Mandel has also encouraged a culture of shared, community-wide responsibility for making Williams more inclusive, with strategic guidance from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. And she sponsored the college’s relationship with the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Tribal Historic Preservation Extension Office, which represents the historical and ongoing interests of the tribe that inhabited the Berkshires region until they were displaced by European and American settlers.

An accomplished historian, President Mandel has devoted her own 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 and her husband, Steve Simon, live in Williamstown, and are parents to two children, Lev and Ava.