Come January, Middlebury College will lose an invaluable member of its community. Shirley M. Collado, Vice President for Student Affairs, Dean of the College, Chief Diversity Officer and the College’s Title IX Coordinator, accepted a new position as Executive Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Executive Vice Provost at Rutgers University – Newark in Newark, NJ.
Collado began at the College in late 2006 as the Vice President for Institutional Planning and Diversity. In July 2010, she moved to her position as Dean of the College.
In her time at the College, Collado has played an instrumental role in a number of initiatives that aim to expand the student experience beyond the classroom. She has been a leader at the College and in higher education in programs for access and student and faculty diversity.
Collado’s decision to take the position at Rutgers did not come easily. However, the opportunity to work at a large, public university with an enormously diverse student body prevailed.
“I was really excited about the opportunity to think about going to another mission driven place that would stretch me in ways that would be pretty significant and allow me to continue to address some of the critical issues that I feel strongly about in higher education. Like access, college persistance, and affordability for all students. What it really means to educate the future student demographics that we’re seeing emerge in high schools,” she said.
At Rutgers, Collado will be working closely with Chancellor Nancy Cantor, another leader in higher education who shares Collado’s values in access and diversity.
Although very different institutions, Collado will be able to continue her work focusing on these core values.
“Making sure that you are creating an environment where all students can thrive is what I will carry with me in terms of our deep commitment here to serving students once you’re a student at Middlebury,” she said. “One of the major initiatives that I’ll be working on there will be overseeing the development of a very dynamic and innovative honors living and learning community which will have a very strong liberal arts, and civically oriented residential component.”
In her transition out of the College, Collado will leave behind a legacy of innovation and commitment to the student body. Her work on the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, MiddCORE, the Center for Careers and Internships, MiddView, the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, and the grant for the Creating Connections Consortium will help to enhance student life at the College long after her departure.
Jon Isham, Director of Center for Social Entrepreneurship and a professor of Economics said of Collado and her time at the College, “Thanks to her, we are a more diverse community, and collectively we are more attuned to the complexities of being a young person in this confounding era. To continue to thrive, our community must lead with empathy and - dare I say - love for each other. Shirley has laid the foundation for such a transformation.”
Collado also worked to diversify the faculty of the College in an effort to offer students a wider range of learning opportunities. Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Andrea Lloyd said that “[Collado] thinks about diversity institutionally, trying to understand how the institution has to evolve in order to achieve our goals. The work of diversifying the faculty, seen from that kind of institutional perspective, becomes woven into the fabric of the place, rather than being seen as somehow separate from the day to day work that we do.”
Although leaving behind a range of programs, Collado professed her faith in the College to resume the work that she did. She was a leader and a role model for the students and faculty, but the administration that will work to continue what she brought to the College.
“Her candid demeanor, constructive criticism, and support helped me immensely over the course of the year. Her commitment to her job and this campus inspired me,” said Rachel Liddell ’15, President of the Student Government for the 2013-2014 school year. “It’s impressive to see someone work so hard but do it with commitment and joy.”
Erin Quinn, Director of Athletics said of Collado, “She has brought an inclusive and collaborative leadership style which has brought the many diverse elements of the division of Student Life together to greatly enhance the student experience at Middlebury.”
Separate interim officers will succeed Collado to fill the three leadership roles that she carries. President of the College Ronald D. Liebowitz will announce these interim officers this fall but will not appoint new people to fill the positions permanently in an effort to allow a new President to play a role in the process.
In her time at the College, Collado has laid the foundations for an innovative and rich campus experience.
“The ethos of this place, the sense of community, the appetite that this environment has to always be better, to play a role in this world as a leader, its really not rhetoric, I feel it, and I’ve seen it in practice,” she said. “So that for me will be one of the greatest gifts that I got from this place. And I hope to be connected to Middlebury in all kinds of ways in the future… I could not feel as prepared and excited as I am if it wasn’t for the kind of experience I’ve gained here and what students have given me here.”