Sonya Stephens speaks as president for the first time


Acting President Sonya Stephens gave her first public address to the Mount Holyoke student body as acting president on Tuesday at the Convocation ceremony in Gettell Amphitheater. 

Wearing robes of blue and black, Stephens rose to the lectern to a cheering crowd of students dressed in green, red, yellow, purple and blue.

"We are here together, in this together, and this moment of Convocation, this moment of assembly of students, faculty, staff and administration, is more than an opening ceremony,” Stephens said. “It is an enactment of our collective incorporation, and of Mount Holyoke’s regeneration.” 

Stephens took on the role of acting president of the college starting July 1, replacing Lynn Pasquerella ’80, who was president of Mount Holyoke from 2010 to 2016. 

Pasquerella will go on to head the Association of American Colleges and Universities while the college searches for its next leader. 

Stephens, who holds a doctorate from the University of Cambridge and a master’s degree from the Université de Montréal, will lead the implementation of a new strategic plan, The Plan for Mount Holyoke 2021, and guide the college through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges reaccreditation process. 

The strategic plan calls for the college to assert its distinctiveness and the value of a liberal arts education, embrace new programs in support of the liberal arts and to develop a comprehensive approach to engaging with the global world, according to the Mount Holyoke Office of Communications. 

Stephens will also oversee the building of the Community Center, which is currently in construction behind Blanchard Campus Center, set to be finished by the fall of 2018.