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News of Dean Baishakhi Taylor

Presidential Letters 21-22

Published July 21, 2022

Dear students, staff and faculty,

I write with bittersweet news. Baishakhi Taylor, dean of the college and vice president for campus life, will be leaving Smith on August 19 to take on a new role as associate vice chancellor of student affairs at NYU Abu Dhabi, where she will be closer to her family in India. In this position, she will oversee student life, health services, spiritual life and career development. I am grateful to Dean Taylor for all she has accomplished here at Smith during the past two years. She has been a strong partner to her team, her colleagues on the Cabinet and to me.

Since joining Smith in July 2020, Dean Taylor has advised and advocated for students, and in so doing has strengthened our community in ways big and small. Recognizing the importance of building community among new students who were participating remotely during the pandemic, she launched a program in fall 2020 to connect those students with the college and each other. When countries began closing their borders in summer 2020, Dean Taylor proposed a collaboration with Fudan University in Shanghai to enable our Chinese first-year students to take two courses in person at Fudan and two courses remotely at Smith.

A strong champion for supporting students’ physical and mental well-being, Dean Taylor and her team planned many events focused on self-care and stress relief over the course of the pandemic. Importantly, she has launched an initiative to expand health services offerings this fall to include telehealth resources to support mental health.

A true collaborator, Dean Taylor has partnered with colleagues across the college on several high-impact initiatives. She has worked with the Office for Equity and Inclusion to advance our Toward Racial Justice strategic plan and with Associate Professor Loretta Ross to develop a “Calling In” orientation workshop for all new students. She has also played a key role in developing a bold new vision for career development so that students will have the opportunity to experience personalized, developmentally staged, inclusive and integrated programming from day one.

In reflecting on her time at Smith, Dean Taylor said, “It has been my great privilege to be part of the Smith community and serve with President McCartney. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to work with Smith students, staff and faculty. I have learned so much from this community, particularly from the students, about belonging and collaboration.”

I believe that my successor should be the person to appoint the next dean of the college. I am very pleased to inform the Smith community that Alex Keller has agreed to serve in this role on an interim basis. Alex is an experienced academic administrator who has been a professor and chair of film and media studies, director of the Kahn Institute, and the chair of Faculty Council. She has also served on the American Studies Executive Committee and the Study of Women and Gender Committee. I am grateful to Alex for her willingness to serve, and I look forward to partnering with her in the year ahead.

Like so many others, I will miss Baishakhi very much. I hope you will join me at a reception on Wednesday, August 17, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Conference Center to congratulate Dean Taylor on her new position and to thank her for her contributions to Smith


Kathleen McCartney