Susan Henking named Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Wells College

Wells College today announced that it has appointed Susan Henking, a qualified higher education professional with extensive executive and academic leadership experience, as its new Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.

Henking, who takes office July 1, 2022, was selected after an extensive national search that began last fall. She succeeds Cindy J. Speaker, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, who will leave Wells at the end of this academic year.

Susan Henking is a religious studies teacher-fellow whose work has focused on cultural understandings of American religion as well as the theoretical and conceptual relationship of religion to gender and sexuality. She has written about the links between American religion and sociology, AIDS/HIV, and more recently how the term “religion” is used.

For more than 25 years, she taught in the religious studies department at Hobart and William Smith colleges, and was named Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies in 2015. While at HWS, she also held many other roles, including several stints as a department. chair; acting dean of the faculty (1998-2000); and provost and acting dean of the faculty (2000–01). She also co-founded the Hobart and William Smith LGBT Studies Program, the first stand-alone program of its kind in the country, and served as its president for more than a decade. She was also an active member of the Women’s Studies program.

In 2012, Henking became President and CEO of Shimer College, a small college then located on the South Side of Chicago that became part of North Central College in Naperville in 2017. In 2017, she was named President Emeritus and also received an honorary doctorate in recognition. of his service to the institution. From 2019 to 2021, she served as Acting Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs and then President of Salem Academy and College, one of the oldest women’s colleges in the United States. At Salem, she strengthened that college’s commitment to liberal arts education while also expanding its pre-professional offerings, particularly its institutional strategic shift toward health leadership.

“Dr. Henking’s leadership style and career path make him an exemplary choice for Wells College,” said President Jonathan Gibralter. leadership, she is well prepared to meet the specific needs of our College and its entire community,” he added.

“Having overseen the academic and student affairs areas at my former institution, I know the importance of an integrative approach to student learning,” Henking said. “Colleges like Wells are designed to help students imagine possibilities and bring them to life, and that happens both inside and outside the classroom. I look forward to helping Wells College continue its mission of teaching the liberal arts, something that is more important than ever today,” she continued.

As a scholar of religious studies, she has co-edited the books “Que(e)rying Religion” and “Mourning Religion” and has published numerous articles and chapters. She was the founding editor of the American Academy of Religion’s “Teaching Religious Studies” series published by Oxford University Press. His thoughts on liberal education and leadership have appeared in Inside Higher Education, the Chronicle of Higher Education, in edited books and journals, and elsewhere.

His many volunteer service activities include serving on the board of trustees of Hutchins Academy, a new high school in Chicago; his current membership in the LGBT leadership association Presidents in Higher Education; work closely with HERS, the leading leadership development organization for women in higher education; and a member of the board of trustees of the American Academy of Religion. These, along with her work experience as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow in the Office of the Chancellor of the State of Pennsylvania Higher Education System in 2009-2010, mean she has a broad understanding of the current higher education landscape.

Henking earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and sociology from Duke University. She then earned her master’s degree from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, where she also earned her doctorate. in religious and psychological studies. An avid cook and fan of murder mysteries, she currently lives in Geneva, New York, with her partner, Betty Bayer, an internationally renowned psychologist and professor of women’s studies at Hobart and William Smith, and their dog, Bunty.


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