POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Vassar College will inaugurate Catharine B. Hill as its tenth president on Sunday, October 29, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at the college's outdoor amphiteater. Hill took office July 1, after her unanimous selection earlier in the year by the Vassar Board of Trustees.
President Hill will deliver her inaugural address following remarks by Williams College president Morton O. Schapiro. A reception will be held immediately after on the Vassar Chapel lawn, followed by a fireworks display. In case of inclement weather the inaugural cermonies will be held in Vassar's Walker Field House, with the reception in the adjoining Athletic and Fitness Center.
The former provost and John J. Gibson Professor of Economics at Williams College, president Hill is a noted economist whose work focuses on higher education affordability and access, as well as economic development and reform in Africa. She succeeded Frances D. Fergusson, who stepped down in June after twenty years in office.
Hill had been the Williams provost since July 1999, holding major financial and academic responsibilities. As chief financial officer of the college, she was responsible for the annual college budget and long-range financial planning, as well as the Controller's office. Hill also had responsibility for the Williams College Museum of Art, the Williams College Libraries and the offices of Admissions, Financial Aid and Information Technology. In addition, she was a member of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions, which makes all reappointment and tenure decisions and allocates faculty positions.
Hill chaired the Williams economics department from 1997 to 1999, as well as the college's Center for Development Economics from 1992 to 1994, having originally joined the faculty in 1985. In her earlier career she worked for The World Bank (1982-1987) and the Congressional Budget Office (1981-1982).
A 1976 summa cum laude graduate of Williams College, Hill also earned B.A. and M.A. degrees at Brasenose College, Oxford University, with First Class Honours in politics, philosophy and economics, and a Ph.D. in economics at Yale University.
In collaboration with colleague Gordon C. Winston, the Orrin Sage Professor of Economics at Williams and another of the nation's leading voices on the economics of higher education, Hill has co-authored numerous papers and publications addressing the issues of affordability and accessibility, including Access to the Most Selective Private Colleges by High-Ability, Low-Income Students: Are They Out There? (presented to the Macalester-Spencer Forum, June 2005 and the Forum for the Future of Higher Education, September 2005) and "Affordability: Family Incomes and Net Prices at Highly Selective Private Colleges and Universities" (Journal of Human Resources, fall 2005), among others.
In addition, Hill has been selected for a number of scholarly awards, grants and fellowships from organizations including the American Council of Learned Societies, the Brookings Institution, the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. The current work of Hill and her colleagues on the economics and affordability of higher education is primarily supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
In what she has called one of the most transformative experiences of her life, Hill and her family lived from 1994-1996 in the Republic of Zambia, where she worked in the Ministry of Finance as an advisor for fiscal and trade policy. Hill served under the auspices of the Harvard Institute for International Development's Project on Macroeconomic Reform and has written widely from her experiences in Africa, including co-editing the books Promoting and Sustaining Economic Reform in Zambia (2004) and the widely-reviewed Public Expenditure in Africa (1996). "During her tenure of office in Zambia, Catharine was able to spearhead our fiscal reform," said Petronella N. Mwangala, Permanent Secretary of Budget and Economic Affairs for the Ministry of Finance in Zambia. "Through teamwork and her passion for excellence, she assisted our country to better manage the economy, and the results are there today for all to see."
Hill and her husband, Kent J. Kildahl, Head of the Upper School at Riverdale Country School (Riverdale, New York), have three children.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.