Suzanne Raitt selected as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences


Wednesday, April 19, College of William and Mary Provost Peggy Agouris announced Suzanne Raitt as the new Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The selection concludes a lengthy search process including three town-hall discussions with candidates Raitt, Divisional Dean for Social Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Cincinnati Sarah Jackson and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln William Thomas. 

“The William & Mary community knows Dr. Raitt well as a gifted colleague. She exemplifies our core value of curiosity, leading with wisdom and great judgment,” College President Katherine Rowe said in a University News announcement. 

Raitt began serving as the acting dean of Arts and Sciences at the College on Jan. 1, 2023. Prior to this role, Raitt served as vice dean for Arts, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies and as chancellor professor of English. She also works on the Council of Arts and Sciences and co-chairs the steering committee for the College’s Computing, Data Science and Applied Science Initiative.

“Suzanne is a valuable partner with my office and others with which she interacts,” Agouris wrote in the announcement email. “She is fair, level-headed, and measured. And as Arts & Sciences faculty members will tell you, she has a unique and wry sense of humor, an indispensable attribute for an academic leader.”

Preceding her selection, Raitt discussed the importance of the role, as well as her favorite parts of working as acting dean in an interview with The Flat Hat. 

“I like how fast-paced it is and how unpredictable it is,” Raitt said. “I really believe in William and Mary and especially in Arts and Sciences. And it’s a privilege to be part of shaping that and leading that.”

The search committee included William and Mary Law School Dean A. Benjamin Spencer, faculty, staff and students. Agouris ultimately decided to extend the job offer to Raitt, and mentioned in the email that feedback from stakeholders was “overwhelmingly positive” in Raitt’s favor.

“Thank you to Dean Spencer and the search committee, as well as everyone who took time to offer feedback on the A&S Dean candidates,” Agouris wrote. “We searched the nation to reaffirm that our treasure was here the whole time. Please extend your congratulations to Suzanne. I look forward to the future in Arts & Sciences with her at the helm.”

To Raitt, Arts and Sciences allow students to become more well-rounded, creative thinkers. She believes that despite an increase in STEM-related major declarations at the College, the skills and knowledge Arts and Sciences bring to the College are undeniable. 

“A very specific training in STEM disciplines is not actually what most employers are looking for,” Raitt said. “They’re looking for students with range, with soft skills, if you want to call them that, with knowledge across the board. And most of all, they’re looking for people with imagination and who understand how to use their imaginations. And that’s not something you get in a specific discipline. It’s something you get by exposing yourself to all kinds of different ways of thinking and allowing yourself to be sparked into seeing things in new ways.”

According to Agouris’ email, Spencer expressed the committee’s increased faith in a current faculty member filling the role rather than an outside candidate. 

“The committee felt that Suzanne understands the concerns of Arts & Sciences and that she ‘could start the position with a level of positivity and realism that would serve her well,’” Agouris wrote. 

Raitt will officially enter the position effective Tuesday, April 25, pending formal approval from the College’s Board of Visitors.

CORRECTION (4/21/23): Article was updated by Sarah Devendorf, the Standards and Practices Editor to take Agouris out of association with the search committee as she was not involved with their work in hiring Suzanne Raitt. 


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