Martin Luther King Sunday Speaker

Valerie Smith, a distinguished scholar of African-American literature, is the 15th president of Swarthmore College. Upon her arrival at

Swarthmore, she identi ed several priorities, among them attracting

more low-income and  rst-generation students and providing for them an exceptional undergraduate experience. She has also cited a strong commitment to

curricular innovation and to strengthening relationships between the College and the region. President Smith began her career in higher education at Princeton in 1980, where she rose through the ranks from an instructor to an associate professor of English and Afro-American Studies. In 1989, she joined the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as associate professor of English, eventually serving as chair of UCLA’s Interdepartmental Program in African-American Studies. She returned to Princeton in 2001 as the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and Professor of English and African American Studies and later served as founding

director of Center for African American Studies and the dean of the college.

President Smith is the recipient of fellowships from the Alphonse G Fletcher Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She also received the

President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University in 2009.

President Smith holds a B.A. from Bates College and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia. She is the author of more than 40 articles and three books on African- American literature, culture,  lm, and photography and is the editor or co-editor of seven volumes. Her most recent publications are Toni Morrison: Writing the Moral Imagination;  e Norton Anthology of African American Literature ( ird edition), edited with Henry Louis Gates Jr.; and

Race and Real Estate, edited with Adrienne Brown.

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