President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion

The President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion builds on the foundational work that has been done at Mount Holyoke throughout its 175 year history to create a campus community that values diversity as core to our mission. The Commission is part of the College's Strategic Plan 2011-2016 and reflects our continued commitment to making an inclusive community central to who we are.


The values of inclusion, equity, diversity, and justice are central to Mount Holyoke’s identity as a pioneering liberal arts college for women. They remain at the core of its mission and institutional functioning and are the foundation for every aspect of student life and learning. They also inform:

  • faculty and staff hiring, training, and evaluation;
  • student recruiting, admission, and retention;
  • campuswide communications and assessments;
  • strategic planning and budgeting; and
  • campus climate checks and measures of accountability.

In the preface to Diversity’s Promise for Higher Education-Making it Work (2009, John Hopkins University Press) Daryl Smith, a professor of education and psychology at Claremont Graduate University, explains the need for colleges and universities to “build institutional capacity for diversity in the same way they build capacity for technology.” With guidance from the President’s Commission, Mount Holyoke aspires to do just that while also celebrating and supporting the diversity and inclusion work already happening on campus.

What is the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion?

The President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion brings together students, faculty, staff, and senior leadership to advance:

  • organizational and systemic change at all levels.
  • an institutional model grounded in data, mission, outcomes, and success indicators.

The PCDI is not a programming committee and does not act as a Chief Diversity Officer. The College will continue to evaluate its readiness for a Chief Diversity Officer as it works to build the infrastructure that facilitates the success of this role. You can find more information about the hiring, work, and success of a Chief Diversity Officer in the articles: The Complex Mandate of a Chief Diversity Officer and What is a Chief Diversity Officer?

You can find more information about how the PCDI works in the article “A Guide to Comprehensive Diversity Work located on the resource page of the PCDI website.

The Commission


  • TBD,vice president for student affairs and dean of the College
  • Sonya Stephens, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty


  • Chris Abbuhl, director of human resources 
  • Gail Berson, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission 
  • Mara Breen, assistant professor of psychology and education 
  • Courtney Brunson ’16
  • Erica DeBlase, counseling service clinician 
  • Aime DeGrenier, manager of community technical support, LITS 
  • Alison Donta-Venman, director of institutional research 
  • Shannon Gurek, vice president for finance and administration 
  • Marcella Runell Hall, dean of students 
  • Catherine (Kate) Harwood ’16
  • David Hernández, assistant professor of Spanish, Latina/o, and Latin American studies 
  • Christine Hutchins, vice president for communications and marketing 
  • Marwa Mikati, Student Government Association vice president
  • Annette McDermott, interim dean of religious and spiritual life
  • Kymberly Newberry FP’16 
  • Kate Wasserman, associate director of new student orientation and special assistant to the dean of the college; staff for the commission