View from College Hill
October 1, 2022
Soon after arriving at Hamilton in 2016, I attended the annual Harvard-sponsored seminar for new presidents. Several months ago I returned, this time as an invited panelist, and was reunited with Hamilton’s former Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen, who was participating in the seminar as the new president of Scripps College in California. As difficult as it was to see Suzanne leave Hamilton, I was happy to see her begin settling into a role she so richly deserves.
Suzanne’s departure created one of three openings on the College’s senior staff this year. Terry Martinez’s retirement in May after more than 30 years in the profession and five years as vice president and dean of students at Hamilton was also a considerable loss. A third cabinet-level position opened when we created a new office focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to be headed by our first-ever vice president for DEI.
The nearly simultaneous recruitment and hiring of three new vice presidents consumed considerable time and attention this past spring, and I am indebted to the dozens of community members who met with search firm representatives, served on the respective search committees, reviewed applications, and met with finalists. Their efforts were rewarded with the selection of three outstanding new colleagues and accomplished academic leaders:
- Ngonidzashe Munemo, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty
- Christopher Card, vice president and dean of students
- Sean Bennett, vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion
Ngoni and Chris inherit strongly performing divisions with ambitious agendas, while Sean will build on the recent work at the College to make Hamilton a more inclusive and welcoming community.
A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Higher Ed Is Looking to Refill Jobs. But It’s Finding a ‘Shallow and Weak’ Candidate Pool,” is the reality faced by many colleges and universities, but the applicant pools for these three searches at Hamilton were exceptionally deep and drawn from across the nation, providing evidence that Hamilton is viewed highly not just by prospective students, but by prospective employees as well.
Even among high-performing organizations, however, there is always room for growth and improvement. Ngoni, Chris, and Sean bring with them years of experience and new perspectives that will help ensure Hamilton continues preparing students for lives of meaning, purpose, and active citizenship. They have joined a senior leadership team of highly regarded administrators, three of whose members have each served more than 18 years at the College, thus providing Hamilton with the perfect blend of institutional understanding and new perspectives to serve our students, faculty, and staff.
Of course, Hamilton is not immune from the labor market challenges facing most colleges and most industries. We have many openings across the College, and we are actively recruiting new colleagues who will help us continue to deliver the gold standard in liberal arts education.