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Williams College has appointed Maud S. Mandel as its 18th president. Photo courtesy Williams College

Bits & Bytes: Mandel named Williams College president; High Mud Comedy Fest; ‘Shapes in Space’; Two By Two Zoo at Roe Jan Library

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By Tuesday, Mar 13, 2018 Life In the Berkshires

Williams College names Maud S. Mandel as its 18th president

Williamstown — Williams College announced today the appointment of Maud S. Mandel, dean of the college and professor of history and Judaic studies at Brown University, as its 18th president. She will succeed Protik (Tiku) Majumder, who has served as interim president since Jan. 1 following the move, after eight years, of Adam F. Falk to the presidency of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Mandel will begin her tenure at Williams Sunday, July 1.

As dean at Brown, Mandel has been deeply involved in efforts to advance diversity and inclusion, including promoting programs to foster retention for historically underrepresented students in the STEM fields. She also led a collaborative process with students and staff to open the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center, the first center at any Ivy League school to be dedicated to first-generation students. A strong proponent of the liberal arts, Mandel established the Brown Learning Collaborative, which is aimed at strengthening student learning in the core competencies of a liberal arts education. In her scholarship, Mandel examines the ways policies and practices of inclusion and exclusion in 20th-century France have affected ethnic and religious minorities. Her work has won support from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Philosophical Society.

Mandel earned a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College in 1989 and completed a doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1998. After becoming a visiting assistant professor at Brown in 1997, she joined the university’s faculty permanently in 2001, rising to professor of history and Judaic studies in 2014. During that time, she also held leadership roles in the Brown’s history department and Judaic studies program, including a term as director of the program from 2012 to 2014. She became dean of the college in 2014.

Mandel’s husband, Steve Simon, and two children, Lev and Ava, will join her when she arrives at Williams College this summer.


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Mike Birbiglia. Photo: Evan Sung

Mike Birbiglia to headline High Mud Comedy Fest

North Adams — Massachusetts-born comedian and “This American Life” regular Mike Birbiglia will headline MASS MoCA’s High Mud Comedy Festival to be held Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 17. Other highlights of the festival include comedic songstress Nellie McKay; “Sasheer Zamata Party Time!” featuring “Saturday Night Live” alum Zamata with Maggie Crane, Matteo Lane, Joyelle Johnson and Shasta Geaux Pop; and a satire-writing workshop with Reductress.

Birbiglia is known for mining deeply personal and uncomfortable truths for laughs. His 2008 break-out off-Broadway solo show “Sleepwalk With Me” blurred the lines between comedy and theater, and was dubbed “simply perfect” by the New York Times as well as being named Time Out New York’s show of the year. Following a critically acclaimed live album and book of the same name, Birbiglia made his film debut in 2011 with the film version of “Sleepwalk With Me,” which he wrote, directed and starred in.

Tickets are $20–$75. High Mud Comedy Fest is best suited for audiences ages 16 and up. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact MASS MoCA at (413) 662-2111 or info@massmoca.org.


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‘Shapes in Space’ by Mike Blaisdel

CATA presents ‘Shapes in Space’ at Good Purpose Gallery

Lee — Community Access to the Arts presents “Shapes in Space,” a retrospective exhibit of artwork created by CATA artists with disabilities, at Good Purpose Gallery through Tuesday, April 10. The exhibit features paintings by CATA artists who use the Artistic Realization Technologies technique to create their work. A free, public art opening will be held Thursday, March 15, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. with many of the artists in attendance.

A.R.T. is an innovative painting technique developed by artist Tim Lefens that is designed to give full artistic control to people with profound physical disabilities who do not have the dexterity to apply paintbrush to canvas. Through the technique, the artists use a laser pointer and a trained human “tracker” acting as their hands to create works of art. “Shapes in Space” features A.R.T. paintings by 20 CATA artists created between 2006 and 2017.

All works in the exhibit are professionally matted, framed and available for sale, with proceeds supporting commissions for individual artists. For more information, contact CATA at (413) 528-5485 or info@cataarts.org.


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Two By Two Zoo to visit Roe Jan Library

The Two By Two Zoo’s Lemurs, Pip and Cricket. Photo courtesy Two By Two Zoo

Hillsdale, N.Y. — A kangaroo, a chinchilla, a rabbit and a giant tortoise will be among the guests visiting the Roeliff Jansen Community Library with the Two By Two Zoo Saturday, March 17, from 11 a.m. to noon.

Established by the Iannucci family in 1993, the Two by Two Zoo travels zoo the Northeast to educate the people of all ages about the care and conservation of animals. Most of the zoo’s animal ambassadors were adopted and have been placed with it voluntarily. They have spacious enclosures, nutritional zoological diets, scheduled veterinary care, and daily enrichment and socialization activities.

The event is free and open to the public. For information, contact the Roe Jan Library at (518) 325-4101.


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