FAQs

Why did the Board initiate this process now?

Presidential selection processes take time. They require broad consultation and careful review. Beginning the process at this time allowed the Board to consider a strong internal candidate in advance of any decision on whether or not to conduct a national search.

How was President-elect Stephens selected?

The decision to appoint President-elect Stephens to permanently was made in consultation with the Mount Holyoke College community — faculty, students, staff and alumnae. Working with the community, the Board of Trustees developed a “Role Specification,” a detailed position description for the next president of Mount Holyoke College.

The Board of Trustees then asked Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., president emerita of Spelman College and former acting president of Mount Holyoke, to engage with the College community  to discuss the acting president’s demonstrated capability in the context of the Role Specification.

Who made the decision to appoint Sonya Stephens?

As is the case in every presidential appointment, the Board of Trustees has responsibility for the selection of the president, with advice and input from College constituencies.

How was President-elect Stephens evaluated?

President-elect Stephens was evaluated for the position of College president on several key tasks, which are described in detail in the Role Specification. These tasks can be summed up in five critical competencies: leadership, strategic capability and planning, financial stewardship, fundraising and community-building.

Why was President-elect Stephens selected?

In the 22 months that President-elect Stephens served as acting president, she demonstrated commitment to the values and community of Mount Holyoke College, and the skills and wherewithal to implement bold and strategically complex initiatives. Under her leadership, the College:

  • implemented The Plan for Mount Holyoke 2021
  • successfully completed the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) re-accreditation process
  • embraced the strategic imperative of balanced budgets and with an enduring commitment to ensuring long-term financial stability
  • launched the Community Center construction and the opening of the renovated student life hub, the Weissman Student Commons, and the Dining Commons, promoting exciting new ways of connecting faculty, students and staff
  • committed to reaching carbon neutrality by the College’s bicentennial in 2037
  • created the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative, which included hiring the College’s first chief diversity officer and organizing the annual BOOM! (Building on Our Momentum) conferences
  • built a strong and effective team, including refocusing on student life by hiring a vice president for student life and dean of students, promoting the College with a new vice president for communications and marketing, and reinvigorating the College’s institutional research office and graduate and professional programs with new directors.

How did the College community provide feedback?

A survey was made available to the College community — students, faculty, staff and alumnae — so that it could submit feedback directly and anonymously. Almost 1,800 surveys were returned, with feedback representing views from all of the community constituents.  

In conjunction with the survey, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., president emeritus of Spelman College and former acting president of Mount Holyoke, conducted interviews on campus and by phone and email. Dr. Tatum also addressed Faculty Meeting to explain the process.

When will Sonya Stephens become president?

President-elect Stephens will begin her role as president on July 1, 2018. A formal inauguration will be held in late September.