Meet Macaulay’s New Dean: Dr. Vanessa K. Valdés

Macaulay Honors College is pleased to announce the appointment of noted author and scholar Dr. Vanessa K. Valdés as Interim Dean.

“Dr. Valdés is an accomplished scholar, historian, author and mentor of students,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “She is well-positioned to further the rigorous scholarship of Macaulay as the school approaches its 20th anniversary in May 2022.

Dr. Valdés joins Macaulay after serving as Director of the Black Studies Program at The City College of New York, fostering an intellectual community for 1,100 students with more than 20 faculty and staff members, offering dozens of majors and minors. As leader of this historic program, she forged critical alliances and brought it to a new level of national prominence.

Her arrival is well-timed with a period of exceptional growth at Macaulay, including record-breaking numbers of applications, our most diverse incoming class of first-year students, and an infusion of new faculty members. Dr. Valdés not only embraces the mission of Macaulay Honors College, but her life experience embodies it: like many of our honors scholars, Dr. Valdés was the first in her family to attend college.

I am thrilled and honored to serve as Interim Dean of Macaulay Honors College. I look forward to working with our wonderful students across all eight senior campuses, our dedicated faculty, staff, foundation board members, and the entire Macaulay community.

A graduate of Yale and Vanderbilt Universities, Dr. Valdés’s research interests focus on the cultural production of Black peoples throughout the Americas: the United States and Latin America, including Brazil, and the Caribbean.

Her book on the influential and foundational historian, writer, collector, and activist Arturo Alfonso Schomburg—Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (2017)—is regarded as the definitive account of his experiences as a Black Puerto Rican-born scholar. Her latest book, Racialized Visions: Haiti and the Hispanic Caribbean (2020) is an edited collection that re-centers Haiti in the disciplines of Caribbean and Latin American studies.

Dr. Valdés began her academic career in 2007 as Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at City College. In her fourteen years there, she earned tenure and advanced to Associate Professor in 2014, then attained the rank of Professor during her directorship in 2019.

The CUNY Board of Trustees approved Dr. Valdés’s interim appointment on July 21, 2021, and will launch a national search for the permanent Dean this fall.