Smith College picks Carol Christ as its next president
Former executive vice chancellor and provost to lead East Coast school beginning June 2002



Carol Christ

16 August 2001 | Carol T. Christ, professor of English and former executive vice chancellor and provost, has been named president of Smith College, one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges for women.

Christ will take up her duties at the Northampton, Mass. college in June 2002. She succeeds Ruth Simmons, who became president of Brown University on July 1. Christ will remain on the Berkeley faculty for the coming academic year, fulfilling her teaching duties.

Christ joined the English faculty at Berkeley in 1970 after receiving her Ph.D. from Yale University. She entered Berkeley’s administration in 1988, serving first as dean of humanities and later as provost and dean of the College of Letters and Science. She was vice chancellor (later executive vice chancellor) and provost from 1994 until 2000, when she returned to full-time teaching.

She is credited with sharpening Berkeley’s intellectual focus and building top-ranked departments in the humanities and sciences. She has been a champion of women’s issues and diversity, and played an important role in shaping campus policy in response to Proposition 209, the 1997 California law barring the consideration of race in college admissions.

“I am excited and honored to assume the presidency of Smith College,” Christ said. “It is a great institution, distinguished in its history, its faculty and its students. Public research universities and liberal arts colleges have a great deal to teach one another.

“It is particularly exciting to lead a women’s college at a time when we are assessing what the women’s movement has achieved and the challenges we still have before us.”

Throughout her administrative career, Christ has maintained an active program of teaching and research, activities she expects to continue at Smith. As chair of her department from 1985 to 1988, she led one of the top-ranked English departments in the country.

Christ’s Berkeley colleagues were excited about the new opportunity for Christ.

“I am delighted that Carol has been appointed president of Smith College,” Chancellor Berdahl said. “While it is Berkeley’s great loss, and her contributions to this campus will always be greatly valued, Carol’s tremendous energy, vision and intellect make her eminently qualified to lead the Smith campus community.

“I applaud Carol for her accomplishments, and Smith for choosing someone of such fine caliber to guide their campus in this new century.”

Laura Tyson, dean of the Haas School of Business and a Smith alumna, said Christ should do well at Smith.

“She has always been attuned to women’s issues,” noted Tyson.
Said Anthony Newcomb, former dean of humanities, “she was and is everything a high-level executive should be: always open and friendly, yet maintaining a proper distance; quick to respond to questions and needs and to make decisions, yet always consultative and respectful of lines of authority.”

Christ’s husband, Paul Alpers, the Class of 1942 Professor of English Emeritus at Berkeley, is also a distinguished scholar. He said he is looking forward to the intellectual life at Smith.


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