March 28, 2019

Dear Members of the Trinity College Community,

I write with an update on the Office of the Dean of the Faculty. As you now know, the office will see two significant transitions in the coming months, as both Tim Cresswell and Melanie Stein depart this summer for terrific next steps in their careers. Those two moves, while independent of each other, certainly will have a cumulative effect on the office, which will be felt most acutely in the near term.

As I continue to gather input to inform a search for the next chief academic officer, we must attend to the ongoing work of the Office of the Dean of the Faculty and ensure that the significant progress of the last several years continues on all fronts. To that end, I am very pleased to report that Sonia Cardenas has agreed to step in to serve as interim dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs.

Sonia, an esteemed member of the political science faculty since 2001 and an academic dean since 2013, is familiar to the interim dean of the faculty role, having shared it very ably with Melanie in 2015–16. Now vice president for strategic initiatives and innovation as well as dean of academic affairs, she has brought positive changes in our external partnerships and graduate studies. She also has been overseeing implementation of Summit, our strategic plan. Sonia will continue her existing responsibilities, though delegating much of the everyday work to allow her to lead the academic division. Anne Lambright will continue serving in her role as dean of academic affairs.

During this interim period, Sonia will assume Tim’s areas of responsibility and serve as the primary contact for the departments and programs that Melanie supports. Sonia will write to the faculty shortly, after conferring with governance groups, to invite nominations for staffing other key areas of responsibility during the transition.

My sincere thanks to Sonia for agreeing to serve in this new and complex capacity, as well as to Anne for her continued service. Trinity is very lucky indeed to have such strong, flexible leadership and senior faculty members—in Sonia and Anne—who are able to absorb these duties in the transition and continue the good work that Tim and Melanie have carried out with so much dedication.

Although I recognize that transitions are always difficult and leave many unsure of the future, I have every confidence in Sonia’s abilities and her commitment to continue the positive momentum in the Office of the Dean of Faculty. She will have the authority to act on behalf of the college and the resources to continue to move us forward. I ask you to offer your fullest support to her in this transition.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience