Pomona College hired Barnard College’s dean of the college, Avis E. Hinkson, as its new vice president and dean of students Wednesday.
Hinkson will begin work Aug. 1, President G. Gabrielle Starr announced in an email to students. Hinkson was selected by a committee of three trustees, two faculty members, three administrators, two students, and two external consultants.
Hinkson will replace Miriam Feldblum, who served in the position for a decade before departing last semester to lead an alliance advocating for the rights of immigrant students at U.S. colleges and universities.
At Barnard, Hinkson developed a program to support undocumented and DACA students and helped reform the college’s Title IX policies.
“We and the search committee believe she brings the right experience, energy and high level of engagement to this crucial role,” Starr wrote. “She is someone who reaches out, listens and helps spark change where it is needed.”
Angela Beam, the 2017-2018 president of the Student Government Association at Barnard College, praised Hinkson’s energy in an email to TSL.
“From stopping by just about every student event on campus, to spending countless hours brainstorming improvements to campus policy to positively impact the student experience — it's safe to say the concept of 9-5 normal business hours isn't in Hinkson's vocabulary,” she wrote. “Her presence on campus is known, active, and meaningful — she is a truly tireless advocate for students.”
Beam also called Hinkson a “true ally” to Barnard’s student government.
“She was a clear voice for both student government and the student body amongst Barnard's senior staff, and took an extremely collaborative, engaging approach,” she wrote.
Alejandro Guerrero PO ’19, the incoming ASPC President, and Elvis Kahoro PO ’20, a member of the search committee, both wrote to TSL that they support the decision to hire her.
However, not all reactions to Hinkson's hire were positive. ASPC Commissioner of Community Relations Samantha Borje PO ’19 wrote to TSL that Hinkson did not do as good a job of conveying her intent to listen to student voices during her candidate meeting with students compared to the other two finalists.
“I’ve spoken with a lot of other students who felt this way too,” she wrote. “We were definitely in favour of the other finalists and I know incoming ASPC senate expressed as much to the selection committee. Frankly, we’re a little disappointed, but we’ll be watching and working closely with Dean Hinkson to see how she (hopefully) proves us wrong.”
Hinkson, in an interview with TSL Friday, said she plans to explore various methods for collecting feedback from students, offering venues that are both “flexible and consistent.”
She declined to list specific issues she would prioritize in her first year, instead emphasizing her desire to listen.
“I don’t think I’m really coming in with an agenda at this point,” she said. “I’m really coming in with the desire to really hear what people want me to consider for my agenda.”
Silvia Martinez PO ’19, the other student member of the search committee, did not disclose to TSL whether she supported the hiring decision.