I am writing to express my unequivocal support for Dr. Shirley Collado as she confronts the resurfacing of decades-old allegations that impugn her reputation.
I served as President of Middlebury College for 11 years and was immensely pleased when Shirley joined my administration in 2007 as Vice President for Institutional Planning and Diversity, and then, in 2010, when she began serving as Dean of the College and Vice President of Student Affairs. Her career to that point was marked by not only excellence and promise, but also by an incredibly compelling life story that I knew would be a great asset to our students and the College.
Shirley’s time at Middlebury was characterized by her deep empathy for our students and colleagues, her championing of creating an inclusive learning environment, and a commitment to assisting those less advantaged or dealing with troubles of any sort. She spoke at length to me about her own experiences and how they shaped her as a first-generation university student, influenced her professional path, and expanded the way in which she approached people from different backgrounds. Shirley was quite candid in discussing a legal action lodged against her when she was in her twenties and the fraught decision she made to seek a resolution rather than fight the baseless charges. She made that decision in an effort to devote her full attention to navigating life after the recent and tragic death of her husband.
The Shirley I know is a fighter for herself and others. She is also an exceptionally strong leader. She showed that every day on the Middlebury campus from her work on revamping our sexual harassment/abuse programs and policies, addressing what many consider difficult and politically challenging issues with faculty and staff (on behalf of students), and living up to high ethical standards she set for herself. I could not be more proud of what Shirley contributed to Middlebury and what she has done since moving on in 2015.
Ithaca College is lucky to have someone like Shirley as President in these challenging times for higher education. I know from watching her at Middlebury from the moment she arrived that she is dedicated to making a difference for the students, faculty, and the campus community she serves.
Ronald D. Liebowitz
President, Brandeis University