Anthropology professor Riché Barnes will leave her position as dean of Pierson College in January 2020 for a tenured position at Mount Holyoke College, according to a Pierson-wide email sent late Friday night.
Barnes, who was appointed dean in 2017, has accepted a position as a tenured professor and chair of the Gender Studies department at Mount Holyoke. Until January next year, the Pierson Office and her deanship “will function as it has,” she wrote in the Friday email. While she works through her last months at Yale, Pierson Head of College Stephen Davis GRD ’98 will convene and lead a search committee — his third in his roughly six years as head — for her replacement in the next few weeks.
Her position at Mount Holyoke will bring her closer to her family in Massachusetts — something Barnes said she looks forward to.
“While we have definitely been able to make being a ‘commuter family’ work … to be at home with them and continuing to pursue my research, teaching and advising of students, is a dream come true,” she wrote in her email to the Pierson community.
Barnes currently serves as the co-director of the Mellon Mays and Edward A. Bouchet Undergraduate Fellowships Program, and she is a fellow at the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration. She won the 2017 Race, Gender and Class Section Book Award from the American Sociological Association for her book, “Raising the Race: Black Career Women Redefine Marriage, Motherhood and Community.” She is also on the executive board of the Association of Black Anthropologists.
“Someone as good as Dean Barnes would be awesome,” Davis said of the upcoming dean search. “Being a person of integrity and someone who’s fully present to students both in terms of academic advising and non-academic advising is essential.”
The search committee will consist of Pierson students, college fellows and a representative from the Yale College Dean’s Office, Davis said. He added he hopes its composition will aim to represent Pierson’s “diversity of involvements, of backgrounds [and] of academic interests.” The group will submit a list of qualified candidates to Chun, who will make the final decision, he said. Barnes will not be involved in the selection process for her replacement.
Shortly after Barnes made her announcement, Davis sent an email on Friday to Pierson students congratulating her for her work as Dean.
“For me personally, she is a treasured friend and colleague, and I can’t tell you how grateful I have been (and continue to be) for her partnership as we seek to make Pierson a place of full welcome and inclusion,” he wrote in the email.
Prior to her time at Yale, Barnes worked as the assistant dean of social sciences at Endicott College, where she also taught anthropology. During her studies at Emory University, she received her Ph.D. and M.A. in cultural anthropology, as well as a certificate in women’s, gender and sexuality studies. She spent her undergraduate years at Spelman College and she holds an M.S. from Georgia State University.
Before her community-wide announcement, Barnes wrote that she shared the news with the Pierson College office, members of the dining staff and the Pierson FroCos.
“It has meant the world to me to be a part of the Pierson Community,” she wrote in her Friday email. “While I am moving on to a new community, I am clear that I have not yet had, over the course of my career, a more sincere feeling of support, appreciation and care in my work place, than the community of people who make up Pierson College.”
Pierson student Tanzi Sakib ’22 expressed sadness over his dean’s announcement of her impending departure.
“She’s really nice, and I loved all of the support she provided,” Sakib said. “I’ll definitely miss her. I wish her good luck.”
This fall, Barnes is teaching “Sex and Gender in the Black Diaspora,” a course cross-listed in African American Studies, African Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Matt Kristoffersen | firstname.lastname@example.org