College Dean to Step Down at Year’s End


Middlebury College

Katy Smith Abbott has served in her current role since 2014.


Katy Smith Abbott will leave her position as vice president for student affairs and dean of the college at the end of this year, President Laurie L. Patton announced today. She will continue teaching as a full-time professor in the art history department.

“I am both saddened at the thought of not having her as a member of the senior administration and pleased that she is remaining at Middlebury and following her academic and personal interests,” Patton said in an email to students.

Baishakhi Taylor, the current dean of students, will become interim vice president for student affairs on Jan. 1, 2018.

Smith Abbott declined to comment, opting instead to talk with The Campus at the start of the academic year.

In her email Patton praised Smith Abbott for her commitment to the college. She cited Smith Abbott’s work to expand MiddView Trips, provide stipends for J-term courses and summer internships, and her role in the creation of [email protected], a program for incoming first-generation students.

“Over the years Katy has led and inspired numerous initiatives to improve the experience of our undergraduate student,” Patton wrote. “Through it all, Katy has worked to enrich the experience for all of our students.”

Smith Abbott first arrived at Middlebury in 1996. From 2002 to 2008 she and her husband, Steve Abbott, a math professor, served as faculty co-heads of Ross Commons. She was then appointed associate dean of the college and later, in 2011, dean of students. In 2014 then-president Ronald D. Liebowitz appointed Smith Abbott to her current position. She originally served on an interim basis but was formally named to the post later that year.

Taylor came to Middlebury in 2015 from Duke University, where she worked under Patton in Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. Like Smith Abbott, Taylor may eventually be named the official dean of the college despite being an interim appointment, although Smith Abbott had been employed by the college for 18 years when she was promoted.

Ethan Brady contributed reporting.