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Valerie Smith

2018 Speaker

VALERIE SMITH is a distinguished scholar of African American literature, and the 15th president of Swarthmore College. Smith’s significant priorities at Swarthmore include attracting more low-income and first-generation students, innovating the curriculum, increasing diversity, and strengthening relationships between the College and the region. Smith began her career at Princeton University. After a stint at UCLA, she returned to Princeton in 2001 as the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and Professor of English and African American Studies. She later served as founding director of the Center for African American Studies and the dean of the college, the position she held before arriving at Swarthmore in 2015. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Smith is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bates College and earned an MA and a PhD M from the University of Virginia. She is the author of more than forty articles and three books on African American literature, culture, film, and photography. @swarthmore