James A. Larimore, the deputy director for Student Success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a former dean at Dartmouth, Stanford and Swarthmore, has been named the new Amherst College Dean of Students, following an extensive national search, President Biddy Martin announced Monday. He will start full-time this summer and begin working for the college part-time in April.
“I am delighted that Jim Larimore will be joining us at Amherst," Martin said. "Jim brings a wealth of experience and insight to one of the most important positions at the College. As higher education changes, his thoughtfulness, talent, and commitment to educational quality will help ensure that we change in ways that preserve what is distinctive about Amherst--its intellectual quality and lasting impact on all who study here. Jim’s leadership of student life will enhance our efforts to create a supportive, fun and intellectually stimulating environment for one of the most talented and diverse undergraduate student bodies in the world.”
For his part, Larimore said he was honored to be have been chosen by the college.
“The affection that students, faculty, staff and alumni feel for Amherst is palpable and highly contagious,” he said. “I am honored and excited to be joining the Amherst community. Amherst is a leader among our nation’s colleges and universities, and exemplifies the best of the American residential liberal arts tradition – a high degree of interaction between accomplished teacher-scholars and enterprising students, a close knit community supported by a talented staff, and alumni who maintain a passionate commitment to the vitality and well-being of the College.”
Austin Sarat, Professor of Political Science and Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, chaired the Dean of Students search committee. He noted that he and other committee members were especially impressed with Larimore’s experience, personality and capacity for being both a hands-on advisor and visionary administrator. In addition to Sarat, the search committee consisted of Tania de Sousa Dias ’13; David Hall, professor of physics; Billy McBride, assistant athletic director - diversity & inclusion/senior coach; Jill Miller, associate professor of biology; Tom Parker, dean of admission and financial aid; Jasjaap “Jess” Sidhu ’14; and Frances Tuleja, assistant dean of admission. Ponneh Varho of the search firm Isaacson Miller also assisted with the search.
“Even with a very strong group of candidates, Jim stood out,” Sarat said. “Student life is a very high priority at Amherst, and Jim’s values, sensitivity, wisdom, and his deep commitment to students made him just the right match for this crucial position. He has had valuable experience at institutions such as Dartmouth, Swarthmore and Stanford, where he’s proven adept at building great relationships with students. He will come to Amherst and help articulate a vision that will put Amherst at the forefront of thinking about student life in higher education.”
Dias, who also serves as President of the Association of Amherst Students and the student body, said she and other students who met Larimore were impressed with his understanding of “the complex overlay of intellectual and social components that form our Amherst student experience.”
“We were excited by his wisdom, sensitivity and creative vision towards student life issues,” Dias said. “His leadership is unquestionably grounded in actively reaching out, listening and understanding students, while challenging us -- as students -- to think outside the box and our comfort zones.”
“Jim will be the perfect champion and advocate for students,” she added. “I think he will fit seamlessly into our Amherst community, and we all look forward to welcoming and working with him.”
Larimore’s professional background includes dean of student positions at Swarthmore, Dartmouth, and New York University Abu Dhabi, as well as several student life appointments, including acting dean of students and assistant to the provost, at Stanford University. Larimore majored in criminal justice with a concentration in sociology at Texas A&M University-Commerce, and earned an A.M. in higher education from Stanford, where he also has completed all but his dissertation in higher education administration and policy analysis. He and his wife Karen have two sons, Anthony, 10, and Joey, 8.
“I’m tremendously looking forward to working with a president who is so clearly in love with and enthusiastic about the institution and its students,” Larimore said. “All of the students, faculty and staff I met, particularly my new colleagues in the dean of students office, were very committed, capable and insightful. I’m overjoyed at the prospect of being part of that team. I’m also inspired by the College’s commitment to prepare students for ‘principled lives of consequence,’ and believe that Amherst has a powerful contribution to make in cultivating the intelligent, wise, compassionate and effective leadership that is so greatly needed across our nation and around the world.”
In announcing Larimore’s appointment, Martin thanked the search committee for identifying such strong finalists and helping attract them to Amherst. She also thanked the Dean of Students office.
“I am especially grateful to Charri Boykin-East, who has served the college as interim dean of students this year with her characteristic passion and hard work,” Martin said.
About Amherst College
Founded in 1821, Amherst is a highly selective, coeducational liberal arts college with 1,800 students from most of the 50 states and more than 30 other countries. Considered one of the nation’s best educational institutions, Amherst awards the B.A. degree in 37 fields of study. Sixty percent of Amherst students receive need-based financial aid.