In April, as this magazine was going to press, Dean of Students Debra DeMeis, who spearheaded the Initiative for Diversity and Inclusion at Wellesley, announced that she was retiring from the College on July 1. She will be joining Cambridge Hill Partners, a consulting firm focused on enhancing organizational effectiveness.
“As dean of students since 2008, Debra has thoughtfully led our Student Life Division and has been an integral member of my senior leadership team,” wrote President H. Kim Bottomly in announcing DeMeis’ departure. “[She] has served the College with distinction ….”
An interim dean of students will be appointed to serve while the College conducts a search for a new dean.
The Initiative for Diversity and Inclusion, launched in 2010, resulted in the creation of the Office of Intercultural Education, which strengthened services, programs, facilities, and staffing to better address student needs. DeMeis has also led efforts to support and enhance wellness at Wellesley, chairing renovation planning for Simpson Infirmary and the Stone Center and implementing a new policy on student sexual misconduct on campus. Bottomly called DeMeis “an important voice” in campus renewal planning, “particularly in thinking about the critical role that residential life plays at Wellesley.”
Under DeMeis’ leadership, the Division of Student Life launched the First Generation Initiative, an effort to support students who are the first members of their families to pursue higher education and connect them with first-generation faculty and staff mentors. Earlier this spring, Wellesley hosted a conference on the experiences of first-generation students, attended by 175 people from 36 colleges and organizations.
“Her imprint on the life and landscape of the College is notable,” Bottomly wrote of DeMeis.