Sonya Stephens is an internationally recognized scholar, educator and leader. An ardent believer in women’s colleges and liberal arts education, President Stephens has devoted her life to advancing academic and intellectual lives, as well as building community across cultures and identities, all in the context of higher education.
President Stephens is an expert in 19th-century French literature and its relation to visual culture and the author of “Baudelaire’s Prose Poems: The Practice and Politics of Irony.” She has also edited several books, including “A History of Women’s Writing in France,” and most recently, “Translation and the Arts in Modern France,” which was published in July 2017.
President Stephens holds a doctorate in French from the University of Cambridge. Her master’s degree in French studies is from the Université de Montréal, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar. Her deep commitment to women’s colleges began with her undergraduate studies at New Hall, a college for women at the University of Cambridge that is now known as Murray Edwards College, where she earned a B.A. in modern and medieval languages.
President Stephens came to Mount Holyoke in 2013 as vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, following a national search led by an all-faculty committee. The Board of Trustees named her acting president of the College on July 1, 2016, and president on July 1, 2018, both by unanimous votes.