Meet Chawne Kimber, new dean of the college

Meet Chawne Kimber, new dean of the college

Bri Hatch

Chawne Kimber, head of the mathematics department at Lafayette College, will be the next dean of the college at Washington and Lee University starting in July.

“The engaged and talented students, staff, and faculty at W&L attracted me to the position, as the institution is on the cusp of a momentous decision about its identity and future positioning,” Kimber said in an email.

Washington and Lee’s challenges — “like diversity, inclusion, and other academic aspects of the strategic plan” — are wide-spread in higher education, Kimber said.

“And we will find collaborative solutions best fit for W&L,” Kimber said.

Kimber has been a math professor at Lafayette since 2000. She was named the Thom-as Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Professor of Mathematics in 2020.

“I have always been interested in teaching. Growing up, my teachers were my heroes,” Kimber said.

As for why she chose math, Kimber said it is not a “very romantic story.” At her large undergraduate university, the University of Florida, advanced math classes meant smaller classes and more opportunities to build relationships with her professors.

“And math just keeps getting more intriguing as you learn more and more,” Kimber said. Kimber also serves as the co-director of the Hanson Center for Inclusive STEM Education at Lafayette College.

Former Dean of the College Lena Hill, who will be Washington and Lee’s next provost starting in July, said she is looking forward to Kimber’s arrival.

“As the next dean, she will be well served by her passionate dedication to students, successful experience leading inclusive STEM pedagogy efforts, and her long commitment to the liberal arts mission,” Hill said.

Outside of the academic sphere, Kimber is known for her quilting — which is often weaved with messages of political activism and social justice.

Kimber said she started quilting as a “meditative outlet” while applying for tenure. But over time, the art form took on new meaning.

“There is a way that quilting connects me to my ancestors who involuntarily farmed cot-ton back in the day, on through to my grand-parents’ generation of accomplished sewists in our family,” Kimber said. “It is an essential medium for illustrating modern struggles in America and for opening dialogues to lead to societal change.”

For Kimber, her passions for quilting, education and activism are all connected.

“Everything that I do is based in a personal mission of securing human rights and essen-tial happiness for all,” Kimber said. “This could have played out in many different ways, but I found a void in higher education that was a comfortable niche to fill.”