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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

GSFS Professor Sujata Moorti Named Dean of Faculty

Sujata Moorti will become the college’s new dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs starting July 2019. 

In this position, Moorti, a professor in, and the director of, the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies program, will join the administration as part of the Senior Leadership Group, but will report directly to the provost, the chief academic officer of Middlebury. In addition to working with faculty, Moorti will also work with other deans and directors overseeing different academic aspects of the college. 

In addition to her work within the administration, Moorti also hopes to be teaching at least one class.

Moorti has been actively involved within life at Middlebury, serving as secretary for Faculty Council, a member of the Promotions Committee and a contributor to the Human Relations Committee Report, also known as the Diversity Report. She feels her involvement in these issues has given her experience that will allow her to be successful in her new position as she takes her work from “the micro level to the macro level.” 

Moorti is excited by the challenge this position will pose, especially during a time when higher education is undergoing a wide variety of changes, such as the introduction of technology into the classroom and changing student bodies.  

“I think part of what is exciting for me about the position is being able to think about the immediate future, but also setting the foundations for something five years or 10 years down the line,” Moorti said. “How do you set the foundations so that the college can be nimble and adaptable and flexible so that the curriculum keeps up with the times?”

One specific issue Moorti would like to undertake is diversifying the college’s curriculum and faculty. 

“I mean diversity in the largest and most capacious sense, so that it is not just diversity in certain departments or programs,” Moorti said. 

Moorti is also interested in improving how the college incorporates the global, noting that while some majors and departments fit in well with this idea, there are others in which this idea could be better incorporated. 

In the past, Moorti has been vocal about issues she supports on campus — sometimes leading her to stand against the administration. Moorti does not believe this will affect her ability to work effectively with fellow administrators, or that her new position will prevent her from speaking out about future issues she supports. 

“My front hope is that I will never have to compromise what I think, our principled positions,” she said. “I would also like to think that I have never held back, and if the administration offered me the position, they knew who they were getting. I think the administration is also aware that I can be professional and fair, even though I have many strong views about certain things. I hope that nothing changes in how I engage with the world.” 

Moorti recognizes that as part of the administration, her stake in the issues might shift. However, Moorti believes that President Laurie L. Patton’s insistence that faculty within the administration continue to teach will be beneficial in reminding her how she can best serve the students at the college.

Patton wrote in an email to The Campus that the search for the new dean was “a rigorous process with a number of highly qualified competitive candidates,” and that she views Moorti’s commitment to disagreement with the administration on certain issues as a valuable trait. 

“The fact that she has disagreed with some of the administration’s decisions during her time at Middlebury was a real positive for us,” Patton said. “Those open disagreements come from a vision and a hope for what the institution can be, and we want that kind of person working with us to build a better community. Sujata is truly someone who is unafraid to have arguments for the common good.”