Updated Nov. 13 at 4:30 p.m.: At 4:11 p.m. on Friday, November 13, President Hiram Chodosh and Vice President for Student Affairs, Admission & Financial Aid Jeff Huang emailed students with a message addressing Mary Spellman’s resignation yesterday as Dean of Students. We have added the text of their email to the end of this post.
At 12:02 p.m. on Thursday, November 12, Mary Spellman resigned as Dean of Students following calls for her resignation after students of color articulated concerns about the Dean of Students office being unsupportive towards students of marginalized identities, and two students yesterday began hunger strikes calling for her resignation. Additional coverage coming later — find Spellman’s email to the CMC community below.
Subject: Difficult Decision
From: Mary Spellman
Date: November 12, 2015, 12:02 p.m.
Dear CMC Community:
Since 2010 I have been privileged to serve as Dean of Students at Claremont McKenna College. Today I am submitting my letter of resignation, effective immediately. I do so with sadness beyond words, because these nearly six years have been the most rewarding and fulfilling of my life, but also with the conviction that it is the right thing to do for the school and the students I care about so deeply.
I have been grateful for the support of the Administration and the heartening encouragement I have received from so many of my students, former students and colleagues. Among the calls, texts and emails I have received is a student who wrote:
“You’ve inspired me in my time at CMC. Please stay strong and realize students like me need you to stay here…I will always be honored to consider you a mentor, a role model, and above all, friend.”
And a faculty member who wrote:
“I also recognize how much you have worked to make our community more inclusive… I know I join many fellow faculty members and students in expressing my full support and confidence in you as Dean of Students here at CMC.”
To all who have been so supportive, please know how sorry I am if my decision disappoints you. I believe it is the best way to gain closure of a controversy that has divided the student body and disrupted the mission of this fine institution. Most important, I hope this will help enable a truly thoughtful, civil and productive discussion about the very real issues of diversity and inclusion facing Claremont McKenna, higher education and other institutions across our society.
Subject: On Mary Spellman’s Resignation
From: Hiram Chodosh and Jeff Huang
Date: November 13, 2015, 4:11 p.m.
Dear Members of the CMC Community,
As you are well aware, yesterday Mary Spellman submitted her resignation as Dean of Students.
Dean Spellman contributed to the health, safety, and development of our students in many invaluable ways. She led our work in developing the College’s programs on sexual assault, including the recruitment of Nyree Gray as Chief Civil Rights Officer and Title IX Coordinator, and contributed leadership to the development of policy and vital resources for survivors of sexual assault. She was the co-director (with Scripps College) of the new EmPOWER Center of the Claremont Colleges, which provides support and education to victims of sexual violence. And she also advocated for the improvement of many important student programs, much of which may not have been generally visible to students, including extending the WOA! program to all incoming students and a vibrant collaboration with students on the College Programming Board. She has also personally counseled and helped countless students navigate many difficult challenges.
Against the heated national and college community controversies of sexual assault, high risk drinking and drugs, and diversity, inclusion, and free speech, we should all recognize the heightened challenges of this important role and the many invaluable contributions Dean Spellman made.
We also need to recognize that the challenges we face are institutional challenges we confront both as a community and as individuals. Each challenge runs much deeper than any one of us, and we pledge to improve our entire community across the College.
Dean Spellman’s decision, which was hers alone, reflected personal courage and a commitment to put our community first.
We each need to do the same and learn from this act of grace and leadership. We both wish Dean Spellman well.
Hiram Chodosh, President
Jeff Huang, Vice President for Student Affairs, Admission & Financial Aid