Sonya Stephens

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty

Image of Sonya Stephens.

Sonya Stephens, 51, is a graduate of the University of Cambridge where she was a member of the women’s college, New Hall (now Murray Edwards College) and so has a deep commitment to, and international understanding of, the importance of women’s colleges.

Born and educated in England, she came to the United States as a professor in 2006. She joined Mount Holyoke College in 2013 as vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, after serving for nearly five years as the first vice provost for undergraduate education at Indiana University, Bloomington (IU). On January 4, 2016, the Mount Holyoke Board of Trustees announced that Stephens would be appointed acting president of the College for a period of three years, effective July 1, 2016, to succeed Mount Holyoke College’s 18th president, Lynn Pasquerella ’80.

At Indiana University, Bloomington, Stephens led the campus-wide development and implementation of new general education requirements, was responsible for assessment, compliance, and accreditation efforts, was key to initiatives in support of teaching and learning, including the collaboration that led to the University’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, and spearheaded the institution’s roadmap for student success.

Before joining IU, she spent 15 years on the faculty of Royal Holloway, University of London, where she chaired the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and for eight years served as the faculty-in-residence director of a team responsible for the academic and personal welfare of 850 undergraduates.

She earned a PhD in French and a bachelor of arts degree in Modern and Medieval Languages from the University of Cambridge, and also holds a master’s degree from the Université de Montréal, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar.

As the chief academic officer at Mount Holyoke, Stephens is responsible for faculty research and curricular support, faculty governance, and academic budgeting and infrastructure. She oversees an operating budget of $52 million and works closely with divisions across the College, including its centers for global initiatives, leadership and environment, as well as with the Five College Consortium on shared initiatives, departments, programs, and faculty hiring.

During her tenure, she has led initiatives to enhance the reputation of the College, and to increase support for faculty research and curricular innovation. During her time as dean of faculty, she has overseen the revision and implementation of the degree requirements, the restructuring and a new vision for the Career Development Center, and the creation of innovative academic programs, such as the Mount Holyoke Data Science Initiative, and Women in Data Science, in collaboration with MassMutual and Smith College. Stephens has also promoted the deep integration of the Lynk experience within academic departments and the strategic alignment of information technology resources to enhance and make visible this curriculum-to-career work. She has led initiatives to renovate classrooms in support of innovative learning, to promote the clustering of academic departments and programs to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration, and to develop a venue and program in support of emeriti faculty and their continued engagement with the Mount Holyoke and their scholarly communities.

During the leadership transition, Stephens will support President Pasquerella by overseeing key campus initiatives such as the development of The Plan for Mount Holyoke 2021, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) reaccreditation process, facilities master planning and the proposed Community Center with Dining, in addition to the planning and launch of a new capital campaign.