Khalilah Brown-Dean to Lead the Allbritton Center

Lorna GrisbyApril 2, 20244min
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Khalilah Brown-Dean, award-winning scholar and author dedicated to community building and access, is Wesleyan University’s new executive director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life and university professor.

“I am a community-engaged scholar and academic leader who creates spaces for collaboration and understanding. I’m passionate about confronting grand societal challenges like threats to democracy,” Brown-Dean said. “This role affords me the opportunity to tackle some of the global conflicts that we all have to contend with, while leveraging the resources of higher education.”

The Allbritton Center is the nucleus of civic life at Wesleyan and is where students learn about everything from civic and community engagement to human rights and social entrepreneurship through efforts in and outside of the classroom work. With her background, Brown-Dean is a natural fit to lead the Center as she has devoted her career to studying and teaching about issues ranging from voting rights to mass incarceration.

“A beacon of scholarly excellence, an inspiring educator, and a tireless champion of civic engagement, Dr. Brown-Dean’s expertise spans the vital realms of voting rights, mass incarceration, U.S. elections, and the intricate dynamics of race and politics,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Nicole Stanton. “In an era where the pillars of democracy and public discourse stand challenged, her visionary leadership heralds a new chapter for Wesleyan University, fortifying our commitment to fostering a more informed, inclusive, and participatory society.”

Brown-Dean, who begins her role at Wesleyan on May 1, was most recently associate provost for Faculty Affairs at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Before Quinnipiac, she was director of Undergraduate Studies at Yale University. She has written several books, including Identity Politics in the United States, and is the host of the popular Connecticut Public Radio program and podcast Disrupted, a 2024 Gracie Award winner. She will continue to host the show.

“The Allbritton Center is a hidden gem for Wesleyan,” explained Brown-Dean. “The opportunities created, and the relationships nurtured by staff across the campus and region are stellar. Their efforts in building bridges and pathways for the Middletown community, as well as for other campuses, is a model for student engagement. This is what makes Allbritton special—a standout for Wesleyan but really for higher education more broadly.”

“My hope is to leverage Allbritton’s standing by bringing Wesleyan to the world and, in turn, the world to Wesleyan,” Brown-Dean added.

In her role, Brown-Dean will build on Wesleyan’s distinctive history as a student-focused learning environment by championing the scholar-teacher model and expanding its community center’s mission to lead and respond to society’s great challenges.

A generous gift from David Resnick ’81, P’13 and Cathy Klema P’13 will make possible the work Brown-Dean is setting out to accomplish at the Allbritton Center.