Erika J. Smith, the current dean of academic services at Brandeis University, has been appointed Connecticut College’s new dean of the college, effective Aug. 1.
Smith brings with her more than 21 years of experience in higher education administration. A former Posse scholar, she holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Lehigh University, a master of education in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and doctor of philosophy in social policy from Brandeis’ Heller School for Social Policy and Management.
In addition to her current role at Brandeis University, her tenure has included appointments as a research assistant at the Heller Graduate School’s Center for Youth and Communities, a research analyst for the Office of Planning and Institutional Research, a lecturer at the Heller Graduate School for Social Policy and Management, a university ombudsperson, director of the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program, and a Posse mentor. Her longtime mentor, Deborah Bial, founder and president of the Posse Foundation, describes her as “a smart, responsible, and talented educator who believes deeply in young people and in the centrality of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Smith has contributed to the Brandeis community through service on dozens of committees, including 10 years of service in the Student Affairs division, followed by five years on the Care Team. She has also served on the Title IX Task Force, the Committee in Support of Teaching, and the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. She served on the board of directors for the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, as well as on the boards of directors for Summer Search and Posse Boston, and has completed training with the ACE Spectrum Aspiring Leaders Program, the International Ombudsman Association, and Mental Health First Aid. Recently, she wrote a powerful piece for a Brandeis Magazine series featuring Brandeis community members of color detailing their personal encounters with racism.
As dean of academic services at Brandeis, Smith leads a team of 29 staff members to provide undergraduate advising and support for academic success, fellowships, health careers, accessibility, as well as support for first-generation and low-income students. In 2018, she participated in a major revision of the Brandeis Core curriculum, an experience that will benefit our community as the College works to bring Connections to the next level of excellence and to advance full participation.
“We are fortunate to have recruited to this vital role someone with Erika’s talent and expertise,” said President Katherine Bergeron in an announcement to the College community. “I am excited for the breadth of experience, intellect, and passion for inclusive excellence she will bring to our senior leadership team.”
As dean of the college, Smith will serve as chief student success officer at Connecticut College, responsible for supporting Connections and the College’s advising programs for first-years, sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and for overseeing centers and programs focused on retention, academic and professional development, study away, fellowships, and student employment. These include the Academic Resource Center, the Hale Center for Career Development, the Posse program, the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, and the Presidential Scholars program.
“I was immediately drawn to Conn by the incredible opportunity to build on the strong foundation laid by the visionary work and leadership of the faculty, students, and staff,” Smith said.
“Connections is inspiring, and will set our students and alumni apart as outstanding critical and integrated thinkers for many years to come. I am thrilled to join the Conn community, bringing all of my experience to bear on behalf of student success.”