Donna E. Lisker Appointed Dean of College and Vice President of Campus Life


Veronica Brown '17 Assistant News Editor 

On March 24, President Kathleen McCartney appointed Donna E. Lisker as the new Dean of the College and Vice President of Campus Life. The current Dean Maureen Mahoney will retire  at the end of this academic year after having held the position for the past eighteen years. The Dean of the College oversees all aspects of campus life, including the offices of student affairs, residential life, financial aid, admission, international students, the Ada Comstock Scholars Program, disability services, health and counseling services, religious and spiritual life, the Wurtele Center for Work and Life, the class deans, the dean of students, and the registrar.

Donna E. Lisker currently works as Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. In this position she has overseen every aspect of the Duke undergraduate experience, including academics, residential life, co-curricular activities and admissions. She spoke of her intention to continue “Dean Mahoney’s excellent work of integrating the curricular and the co-curricular” as one of her chief goals for her new position.

Lisker has worked extensively with women’s leadership at Duke.  After researching the status of women at the university through her work on the Duke University Women’s Initiative, Lisker founded and co-directs the Baldwin Scholars Program, an leadership program that helps “to get women elected to student leadership positions” and to teach “women the skills they need to lead in the way that suits their personalities and interests,” an endeavor she hopes to continue with her work at Smith, saying “women’s leadership issues present themselves differently at a women’s college” because women are not dealing with the same problems of fighting for representation within the college but instead preparing to be effective leaders.

In addition to her work as Associate Vice Provost, Lisker teaches a freshman seminar about gender and sports in the women’s studies program at Duke and serves as a pre-major advisor. In 2013, she also took on the role of interim vice provost for the Duke Kunshan University, a partnership between Duke University and Wuhan University that aims to create a university in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, China.

Although Duke is a research university with an undergraduate enrollment over twice the size of Smith’s, Lisker, a Williams alumna, sees coming to work for a liberal arts college as “returning home to a model I love.” After graduating from Williams with a B.A. in English and mathematics, Lisker earned her M.A. in British and American literature and PhD in English with women’s studies and theater minors from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Lisker will assume her new role at Smith in July 2014. She looks forward to getting “to know the Smith community, especially the undergraduate students and the colleagues I will be working with daily.” She is also eager to begin familiarizing herself with Smith’s culture and traditions, saying “I hope many houses will invite me to tea!”

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