Danielle Ren Holley (Courtesy of howard.edu)
Danielle Ren Holley (Courtesy of howard.edu)

Mount Holyoke College, considered one of the original “Seven Sisters” of higher education in the U.S., has selected Howard University School of Law Dean Danielle Ren Holley as its first Black president, officials of the 186-year-old South Hadley, Massachusetts, institution announced Tuesday.

Holley, who has served as Howard’s law school dean and professor of law since 2014, will assume her new position on July 1 at Mount Holyoke, where the late Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress, taught for years.

“It is an understatement to say I am excited to join the vibrant and dynamic Mount Holyoke community; in truth, I am ecstatic and exhilarated,” Holley said. “My personal and professional endeavors reflect my commitment to creating educational opportunities for talented and deserving students, including those who may encounter doors that are closed or unwelcome. Mount Holyoke shares this vision — here, I have found students who want to break down barriers and create lasting, equitable change for all, and faculty, staff and alums dedicated to helping these students strive for a brighter and bolder tomorrow.”

Mount Holyoke alumna and Board of Trustees Chair Karena V. Strella said Holley has qualities that will take the institution to the next level.

“In addition to her exceptional leadership and ability to cultivate shared purpose, President-elect Holley brings a strong vision for what Mount Holyoke is and, more importantly, what our college can become,” Strella said. “She has a strong track record of strategic growth and innovation, which will serve us well. Holley is widely recognized for her broad intellectual interests and curiosity, as well as for her rigorous advancement of racial and social justice in the legal field and beyond. We look forward to welcoming her to the Mount Holyoke community, particularly as we continue our work together to create and maintain a culture of belonging and a society that advances the dignity of all.”

Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick credited Holley for elevating the law school to the Top 100 of the U.S. News & World Report list, establishing the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, driving admissions applications to an all-time high, and a 200% increase in fundraising.

“Her presence and impact will be truly missed on our beloved campus,” Frederick said.      

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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