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Connecticut College names new dean of the college, senior diversity officer

Carolyn C. Denard, an academic and student affairs dean who led diversity initiatives at Brown University and Emory University, among other colleges and universities, has been named dean of the college and senior diversity officer at Connecticut College.

As dean of the college and senior diversity officer, Denard will be the chief student affairs and academic support officer, responsible for overseeing services and programs that integrate students' experiences in and out of the classroom. She will lead efforts in the college's learning and living environment that foster the educational benefits derived from a diverse community; and reinforce students' academic and personal growth, leadership development and community engagement.

"With her unique background and experience, Carolyn Denard is a great fit for this institution. Moreover, she embraces the values of Connecticut College and represents them very well. She is going to be a marvelous addition to our senior leadership team and a great asset for our students," said President Leo I. Higdon Jr.

A scholar of the life and works of Toni Morrison, Denard is founder and chair of the Toni Morrison Society. Denard's publications include books and essays that explore the myths, history and culture in Toni Morrison's writings. Throughout Denard's career in academe, she has been a featured speaker on topics relating to Toni Morrison, and she has taught classes in literature, women's studies and African American studies, many of which were based on her Toni Morrison expertise.

Denard served from 2008 to 2012 in the dean's office at Emory University as associate dean of the college and, most recently, as interim graduate assistant dean for student affairs. She directed programs that support students' academic success and worked closely with faculty, the provost's office and the administration to ensure student progress. She also has served as Emory's dean for international and underrepresented students.

At Brown University, Denard was associate dean of the college from 2005 to 2008, responsible for all undergraduate research programs, including faculty-student collaborative summer research projects at Brown and abroad. She developed a college-wide Research and Fellowship Fair to showcase research and fellowship opportunities for Brown undergraduates and established "Summer Research Thursdays," a weekly lecture and networking session to create community among summer undergraduate researchers. She also served Brown as interim dean for diversity, responsible for recruitment, orientation and progress for transfer, minority, international and non-traditional-aged students.

At Brown, Denard was instrumental in guiding the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, a national initiative of the Andrew Mellon Foundation, which seeks to support and promote the academic development of underrepresented students who wish to enter doctoral programs in the humanities upon graduation. At Emory, she continued her involvement in the program by advising young alumni.

Prior to joining Brown, Denard was associate dean of the college at Wells College in Aurora, N.Y. At Wells, she led the First-Year Seminar program and designed the college's Individualized College Plan to help first-year students plan focused use of academic and student affairs resources through their four years of undergraduate study.

Denard received her bachelor's degree in English from Jackson State University, her master of teaching degree in English from Indiana University and her doctorate in American Studies from Emory University. Her dissertation, "Return to the Briar Patch: Ethnic Cultural Consciousness in the Fiction of Toni Morrison," won the American Studies Association Dissertation Award.

Her post-doctoral work included a fellowship at Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Studies and a fellowship at Emory University's Institute for Women Studies. Her edited works on Toni Morrison include "Toni Morrison: Conversations" (2008) and "What Moves at the Margin: Selected Non-Fiction by Toni Morrison" (2008).

July 18, 2012