Kim Bottomly Named Wellesley College's 13th President

May 10, 2007
Mary Ann Hill

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Kim Bottomly, a renowned immunobiologist and a deputy provost at Yale University, was named Wellesley College’s 13th president today.

Kim Bottomly photo

Kim Bottomly, Wellesley's new president.

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(Click here for CV for Kim Bottomly.)

“In Kim Bottomly, we have found the perfect person to lead Wellesley at this time in its history,” said Victoria Herget, chair of the board of trustees and a member of the presidential search committee. “By every measure, Wellesley is in a position of tremendous strength. Kim has the intellectual leadership, administrative experience and commitment to Wellesley’s mission and vision that are necessary to take this remarkable institution to the next level of excellence.”

A Montana native, Bottomly graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in zoology and earned her doctorate in biological structure from the University of Washington School of Medicine. Before joining the Yale faculty in 1980, she did postdoctoral work in immunology at the National Institutes of Health.

In her role as deputy provost for science, technology and faculty development, Bottomly is responsible for an array of academic, administrative, and budgetary activities across many departments and divisions at Yale. She also initiates and oversees efforts to enhance faculty career development and has been instrumental in Yale’s efforts to recruit and retain women in the sciences and underrepresented minorities in all fields.

“I am excited about assuming the leadership of an institution known for educating women who become leaders in all fields of human endeavor,” said Bottomly. “Wellesley is a national, and increasingly international, treasure. It earns this status by bringing a diverse group of bright and accomplished young women to a magical place populated by outstanding faculty scholar-teachers in an institution managed by an uncommonly smart and supportive administration and board of trustees. My role will be to make sure that Wellesley continues to do this no matter the challenges of a changing world. I can think of few jobs more important than this one.”

“Over the course of her distinguished scientific career, Kim has shown a deep commitment to the values that matter most to Wellesley – the education and empowerment of women, the pursuit of academic excellence, the intrinsic worth of creating and disseminating knowledge,” said Dean of the College Andrew Shennan, who served on the search committee. “She is a scholar attuned to the changing character of academic disciplines and the changing environment of higher education, a scholar who is unafraid of experimentation and creative problem-solving – in short, the right person to help Wellesley realize its aspirations for the future.”

“I am confident that Kim Bottomly will take Wellesley to new and exciting places,” commented Rosa Fernandez, a Wellesley College senior from the Bronx, N.Y., and a member of the search committee. “She is a top scientist in her field, bringing a fresh and interesting perspective on the liberal arts while confronting the challenges of globalization, technology and sustainability in our world. She will bring strong intellectual leadership for both Wellesley's faculty and its current and future students.”

A productive scientist and educator, Bottomly’s research focuses on the molecular and cellular factors that influence the initiation of immune responses. She pioneered studies defining cellular changes associated with allergic and asthmatic responses. Using model systems, her laboratory studies how people respond to allergens and why inhaled allergens lead to lung injury. She is the principal investigator on five grants from the National Institutes of Health, as well as other research grants, which together support her 16-person laboratory at the Yale Medical School. She has written more than 160 peer-reviewed articles and has lectured widely at universities in the U.S. and around the world.

Bottomly served as a member of the Immunobiology Study Section at the National Institutes of Health, was appointed to the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and was a recipient of the highly selective National Institutes of Health MERIT award. She has been editor as well as associate editor of the scholarly journal, Immunity, and a section editor and associate editor of the Journal of Immunology. Her memberships in professional societies include the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the American Association of Immunologists. In addition to serving on and chairing many appointed and elected committees of the American Association of Immunologists, she was the distinguished lecturer at its 2004 annual meeting. She has served on many scientific and medical advisory boards and as a consultant to a number of large pharmaceutical companies.

Bottomly is former chair of the Committee on Status of Women of the American Association of Immunologists, a former chair of the Women's Committee of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biologists and a former member of the steering committee of Yale’s Women Faculty Forum.

Bottomly lives in New Haven with her husband Wayne Villemez, a professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. From an earlier marriage to the late Charles Janeway, she has two daughters, a stepdaughter and twin granddaughters.

She will assume the full duties of president on Aug. 1, following the 14-year tenure of Diana Chapman Walsh, which ends June 30.

Committed to educating women since its founding in 1870, Wellesley College has long been recognized as one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country. Its mission – to provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world – unites three aspirations: to strive for academic excellence, to educate women and to produce graduates whose lives and careers will exemplify engagement in the world. Wellesley’s 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and more than 65 countries.