Cristle Collins Judd, 11th President of Sarah Lawrence



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President Cristle Collins Judd outside the Barbara Walters Campus Center

The 11th president of Sarah Lawrence, Cristle Collins Judd came to the College in 2017 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where she served as a senior program officer for Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities. In June of 2021, as she completed the fourth year of her first five-year term as president of Sarah Lawrence, the College’s Board of Trustees reappointed Judd to a second term, noting the board’s deep admiration and gratitude for Judd’s visionary leadership and considerable achievements on behalf of the College.

First Term (2017-2021)

Honoring existing college traditions while establishing meaningful new ones has been a hallmark of President Judd’s tenure. As part of her inauguration in 2017, she created an annual event series through which the SLC community and invited guests spend the academic year taking a focused look at one topic through various lenses. Beginning with a focus on Democracy & Education (2017-18), subsequent themes have included: Difference in Dialogue (2018-29), E Pluribus Unum (2019-20), and Justice (2020-21).

Chief among the many highlights of Judd’s first term was bringing to successful conclusion the College’s largest Capital Campaign—$200 million—in 2019. That same year, as part of the campaign, the College welcomed two important additions to its suburban campus. First, in August, 18 months after breaking ground, the sustainably designed Barbara Walters Campus Center opened on time, on budget, and fully donor-funded, becoming the College’s first new building in 15 years. And in the shadow of Westlands, the Remy Theatre sprang from the ground. A partial recreation of a 1930s open air theatre located in Cos Cob, Connecticut, the Remy has quickly become a sought-after venue for performances, readings, and even classes.

The middle of President Judd’s first term was marked by the Coronvairus pandemic and its impact on the Sarah Lawrence community and higher education at large. Through thoughtful and steady leadership, Judd navigated the College through this challenging time, guided by the twin priorities of safeguarding the health and wellness of the community and a fundamental commitment to provide an excellent and equitable education. She balanced managing and mitigating the immediate and severe impacts of the pandemic with long-range planning to ensure a successful post-pandemic future for the College, work that continues today.

Strengthening ties with the surrounding community and expanding the College’s reach rank high among President Judd’s priorities. In 2019, Sarah Lawrence was awarded a five-year, $1.2 million grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—the largest programmatic grant in the College’s history—to advance and support civic engagement through the arts and humanities in Westchester County.  In 2021, Judd established transfer partnerships with nearby Westchester Community College and Bronx Community College aimed at opening the doors of opportunity to even more students who will benefit from Sarah Lawrence’s one-of-a-kind education.

Also in 2021, delayed one year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a new partnership brokered by President Judd came to fruition as EXPLO brought its summer program for students in grades 8-10 to the College’s campus. EXPLO is an organization whose mission and approach to learning aligns closely with SLC’s, and the College welcomed the opportunity to simultaneously offer pre-college students a summer of exploration and a glimpse of college life and Sarah Lawrence. The College further enhanced its partnership with EXPLO by offering Sarah Lawrence credit for a suite of courses offered to high school students, as approved by the College’s curriculum committee.

A staunch believer in the value of a Sarah Lawrence education and a devout champion of its students, Judd is known for her visibility on campus, enthusiastically supporting students on a daily basis at events, performances, athletic competitions, and gatherings. She seeks to give an authentic glimpse of life on campus through her Instagram, @slcprez.

Prior to Sarah Lawrence

A native Texan, Judd earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Rice University, followed by graduate work at King’s College, University of London, from which she holds master’s and PhD degrees in music theory. Judd’s first academic appointment was at the University of Melbourne (Australia), followed by the University of Exeter (England).

In 1993, Judd joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where she rose through the faculty ranks and was the first woman tenured in the music department. At Penn, she chaired a number of university-wide committees and spearheaded a variety of initiatives, including establishing the College House Music Program, a living-learning program that distributed music performance and instruction throughout the campus. A respected pedagogue, she was the inaugural recipient of the Dean’s Award for Innovation in Teaching.

In 2006, she was appointed dean for academic affairs and professor of music at Bowdoin College, where she served for nine years. The first woman to be appointed dean, her tenure was marked by enhanced support for the arts, improved academic facilities, a renewed focus on environmental and coastal studies, and a new program in digital and computational studies. She secured funding to support faculty development and, working with faculty, led efforts to develop and implement critical new programs and policies around diversity and inclusion, governance, faculty development, and work-life balance. Upon conclusion of her term, Bowdoin’s Board of Trustees voted to name her Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor Emerita.

A highly regarded scholar, Judd’s research on the music of the Renaissance and the history of music theory is widely published and she is a sought-after guest speaker. She has received both of the major scholarly awards in her discipline: the Emerging Scholar Award and the Wallace Berry Award from the Society for Music Theory. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a New Directions Fellowship from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She has served on the boards of the Society for Music Theory and the American Musicological Society, as well as on the editorial boards of various journals.

With her late husband, Robert Judd, she has three daughters: Sarah, Hannah, and Katie.

Last updated July 2021