President H. Kim Bottomly to Step Down in July of 2016

Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly to Step Down in July of 2016

Wellesley, Mass.—H. Kim Bottomly announced today that she will step down from the presidency of Wellesley College in July of 2016. Dr. Bottomly informed the College’s Board of Trustees of her decision to leave Wellesley at the Board meeting today.  

“President Bottomly has made extraordinary contributions to Wellesley,” said Laura Daignault Gates ’72, the chair of the Wellesley College Board of Trustees. “From restructuring and fortifying the College’s finances following the historic recession of 2008 to launching a range of important and forward-leaning initiatives, she has been the right president at the right time in the College’s remarkable history. We are deeply grateful that her leadership will leave us so very strong and well-positioned for the future.”

“There will never be an easy time to leave such a wonderful place,” Bottomly said in a letter to the College community, “but this is the right time for me. With robust financial and intellectual resources in place, and with efforts to renew our celebrated campus well underway, the College is strongly positioned to move forward. I am confident that Wellesley will continue to build on this base to achieve all the goals and aspirations of this remarkable college.”

Bottomly is Wellesley’s 13th president, a position she assumed on August 1, 2007. She is the first scientist to head Wellesley, the nation’s leading liberal arts college for women, and the first president inaugurated in the 21st century.

Bottomly has led Wellesley into an increasingly global era. In 2009, the College launched the acclaimed Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59 Institute for Global Affairs, bringing a unique interdisciplinary approach to understanding world affairs. The College has also partnered with leading institutions around the world to educate the next generation of women leaders. In 2012, Wellesley became the first liberal arts college to join edX, the Harvard-MIT online learning collaborative, adding its liberal arts perspective to online education and augmenting the College’s global presence.

Early in her presidency, Bottomly formalized an innovative collaboration with Olin College of Engineering and Babson College. Leading efforts to preserve Wellesley’s beautiful campus, Bottomly has undertaken to renovate and renew the College’s historic buildings—on a scale that the College has not seen in 100 years. Today she is leading the effort to institute a reimagined model of career services designed to better serve liberal arts graduates in the 21st century economy.

Andrew Shennan, Wellesley College Provost and Dean of the College said, “The hallmarks of President Bottomly’s tenure have been her decisiveness and her unshakeable sense of priorities, with the quality of our academic program at the top. In this time of challenge and transformation in higher education, Kim Bottomly has consistently encouraged the College to be bold and exemplary and to take a leadership role.”

During Bottomly’s tenure, applications to Wellesley are at an all time high and Wellesley has seen a substantial increase in selectivity. Dr. Bottomly has dedicated her tenure to ensuring that Wellesley remains accessible and supportive of students of diverse backgrounds so that, just as Wellesley’s founder Henry Durant envisioned in 1875, bright young women may benefit from a Wellesley education, no matter their financial background. In 2008, Wellesley increased its spending on financial aid to further encourage students from all economic backgrounds to take full advantage of Wellesley’s need-blind admission process, and to help ensure that Wellesley students graduate with minimal debt.

Wellesley’s endowment—having significantly more than recovered from the recession—now stands above $1.8 billion. Wellesley’s alumnae participation rate has been steadily rising, last year hitting the highest rate in more than a decade. At the same time, the College has increased its visibility and reputation around the world.

Bottomly is a graduate of the University of Washington, where she earned B.S. and Ph.D. degrees and was selected as one of their “Wondrous One Hundred,” the top 100 alumni of the century. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Inventors. Before assuming the Wellesley presidency, Bottomly was a professor in the Department of Immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine and Deputy Provost at Yale University. 

Bottomly’s husband, Wayne Villemez, is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Connecticut. Her daughters Hannah and Megan Janeway, are 4th year medical students at Brown University and Boston University School of Medicine, respectively. Her stepdaughter, Katherine Janeway is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School.

The search for a new president will begin immediately, guided by Board Chair Laura Gates. Gates will form a search committee, which will work in cooperation with an outside search firm to find the right candidate.

About Wellesley College

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been the preeminent liberal arts college for women. Known for its intellectual rigor and its remarkable track record for the cultivation of women leaders in every arena, Wellesley—only 12 miles from Boston—is home to some 2400 undergraduates from every state and 75 countries.


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