Marcella Runell, Ed.D.


  • Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students
Marcella Runell Hall

Marcella Runell, Ed.D. is the Vice President for Student Life, Dean of Students and Lecturer in Religion at Mount Holyoke College. Prior to coming to Mount Holyoke, Marcella was the founding Co-Director for the Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership (now the Global Center for Academic & Spiritual Life) and program director for the minor in Multifaith & Spiritual Leadership at New York University.

Trained in the interdisciplinary field of social justice education as both a practitioner and scholar, Marcella has authored books, articles, and curricula on topics of popular culture, friendship, race, spirituality and critical pedagogy. Most recently, she co-authored the book, UnCommon Bonds: Women Reflect on Race & Friendship with Dr. Kersha Smith and a chapter on “Parenting Mixed Race Children," in Biracial Families: Crossing Boundaries, Blending Cultures, and Challenging Racial Ideologies. Additionally, she has written for Routledge, Scholastic Books, the New York Times Learning Network, VIBE, academic journals, including Equity and Excellence in Education, and contributed to various edited book projects.

Marcella was the recipient of the NYU 2013–2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award and has received teaching and programmatic awards, including the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. She has also co-created multiple award-winning programs (recognized by NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) such as Faith Zone, Be Well, Ally Week, ACT-I, and the Hip-Hop & Pedagogy Initiative. Marcella was honored by inclusion in the JFK 50th Anniversary Legacy Gallery; recognized by the Brooklyn Borough President for her social justice work and a former fellow for the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.

Marcella has been mentioned, profiled, or featured in media outlets, including Inside Higher Ed, Edutopia, Boston Globe, Hampshire Gazette, Mass Appeal, Black Issues Book Review, Teaching for Change, Rethinking Schools,, Huffington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, Parent Lab, ColorLines, Huffington Post, Higher Ed Live,, Madame Noir, El Diario, WBAI and WNYC radio, DefendersOnline and

Marcella is an advisory board member for Embrace Race, an affiliated member of the Center of Racial Justice and Youth Engaged Research at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, recently served on the Board for the Holyoke Children's Museum and currently serves on the Scott Academy Board & 2023 Conference Leadership Committee for the NASPA.

In the Division of Student Life, Marcella oversees Student Engagement (including Residential Life, Student Involvement, Orientation, Community Standards, and Be Well), Community & Belonging, Health Services, Counseling Service, Public Safety and Service, and Physical Education and Athletics.


  • Ed.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Happening at Mount Holyoke

Recent Campus News

Marcella Runell, vice president of student life and dean of students at Mount Holyoke College, spoke with MassLive about how the College is tackling the rising demand for mental health services.

Mount Holyoke College’s 2024 Common Read is “I Never Thought of It That Way,” a timely personal guide to the front lines of a crisis that threatens America — broken conversations among confounded people.

Marcella Runell, the vice president of student life and dean of students and lecturer in religion at Mount Holyoke College, has been recognized with a 2024 Pillar of the Profession award.