Dean Hill will be the next Provost

How Hill’s work as Dean of the College and prior history will contribute positively contribute to the University

Henry Barden

After a long search, Washington and Lee University appointed its own Dean of the College Lena Hill to be the next Provost, beginning on July 1, 2021.

“How do I build on all that is unique and strong at W&L to make it even better?” she said.

Hill originally took on administrative roles at Iowa University, observing more fully the true intricacy of a university while working more closely with faculty and staff outside of her department to foster diversity and inclu- sion initiatives.

Coming to W&L to serve as dean of the college allowed Hill to utilize her previous management experience in a role almost exclusively focused on academics, to which she wanted to return. “That is what I wanted to get back to, that is what I loved, and that’s what I really enjoyed in this current role,” she said.

As dean, Hill worked extensively to create a more diverse and inclusive university community, working with Human Resources to improve faculty hiring strategies, implementing implicit bias training for faculty search committees, joining the Gettysburg College Consortium for Faculty Diversity, and instituting the Ted Delaney postdoctoral fellowship.

Hill emphasized the importance of data-driven improvements in diversity and inclusion, as they embolden and more narrowly define future efforts through tangible results. Hill and the university intend to monitor the data of their diversity and inclusion initiatives, and to disclose it. “We want everyone to know where we are, and we want to hold ourselves accountable, but it also inspires us to continue moving forward, when you see, okay, we are actually making progress,” she said.

As provost, she will work to keep existing diversity and inclusion initiatives running strong and look to build upon them. She has already worked with Crawford Family Dean of the Williams School Rob-ert Straughan to expand the Ted Delaney postdoctoral fel-lowship to be included in the Williams School, and seeks to develop it even more. “As Pro-vost, I can think about, how do we make sure we sustain that; can we grow it, so that it’s more than one or two postdoctoral fellows per year,” she said.

Hill also believes that considerations about cultivating diversity on campus should go hand-in-hand with consider-ations about retaining diversity on campus, since increases in diversity that come and go are not effective in the long-term. “That’s one of the things that I’ll be thinking very carefully about, and that there’s no easy answer to that,” she said.

Hill applauded Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Student Engagement Tamara Futrell and Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid Sally Stone Richmond for their outstanding work promoting diversity and inclusion on a comprehensive level. As provost, she wants to ensure that the resolution from the academic standpoint to improve and maintain diversity and inclusion initiatives to be just as strong. “On the academic side, I want to make sure we are just as concerted in our efforts to not only move forward our diversity and inclusion initiatives, but to also sustain them,” she said.

President of the University Bill Dudley believes that Hill would make a good provost because of her proven track record of both administering people and overseeing budget allocation, the university’s familiarity with Hill’s performance, and Hill’s strong relationships with faculty, having been a faculty member for years. “One of the advantages that we have is, this is her third year as the dean of the college here, so we have direct ex- perience of how she’s done that job and she’s done that exceptionally well,” he said.

Dudley thinks her assumption of the role of Provost will be very smooth. “I imagine it being quite seamless, frankly,” he said.

Aside from Hill’s work as dean, her sense of fashion also receives praise. Hill said that she delights in fashion because it adds a boost of fun to her life, and that she experiences bad hair days too. “Even when I’m really, really busy, when I get to enjoy putting together an outfit that makes me feel like me, it just brings a certain joy to my day,” she said. “I feel most at home in a dress that I love.”