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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Beronda Montgomery discusses her career and plans for Grinnell as the new vice president of academic affairs

Beronda Montgomery will join Grinnell College as the Vice President of academic affairs in July. Photo contributed by Beronda Montgomery.

Beronda L. Montgomery was appointed the new vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college on Jan. 11. Being a faculty member and administrator at Michigan State University, Montgomery is no stranger to mentorship and leadership roles.

Montgomery completed her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis and believes that the interdisciplinary nature of her education helped form her career. Her background in a liberal arts education and a longing for a sense of community offered by Grinnell made her see Grinnell as a great fit for her next endeavor. “[Grinnell] seemed like a place with which I had so many visions and values overlap and that became clearer as I was able to talk to more people associated with it, including President Harris.”

In addition to being chosen for a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and as a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, Montgomery’s reputation precedes her. Montgomery has also conducted research in biochemistry and said that research led her to do more work in mentoring and leadership. She was named one of the 100 Inspiring Black Scientists in America by CrossTalk for her dedication to research, mentoring scientists of diverse backgrounds and creating literature about diversity and inclusion in 2020. She was also awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellowship in the same year.

“Being in an environment that shares the same ethos that I have about broadly exploring knowledge and asking questions about impacting the world is what drew me to Grinnell,” Montgomery said.

Once she begins at Grinnell this summer, Montgomery is excited to contribute to the school’s commitment to social justice.

“A large part of my work has also been about understanding the importance of mentoring and advocacy. I’m excited to get to know what work is already going on and to bring my own expertise to that commitment and try to help grow that work.” Additionally, she will be an important part of Grinnell’s current strategic planning and will help make decisions about the College’s goals for the future.

Montgomery also expressed a commitment to help individuals make the most of the impact made by the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that it is important to reflect on what crucial lessons we have learned in these trying times and use that moving forward so that, in Montgomery’s words, “We emerge stronger and wiser, not just impacted.”

Montgomery is excited to use her experience in mentoring at MSU, which includes overseeing the last phase of the MSU Global Impact Initiative, pioneering the role of Assistant Provost for Faculty Development-Research and mentoring undergraduates in STEM. “I am looking forward to my role as a leader,” said Montgomery, “as being steward of the environment, not a fixer of individuals.”

Beronda Montgomery will begin her work as the vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college on July 1, 2022.

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