Recognized as one of the 20 most interesting college presidents by The Best Schools, Jane Fernandes is in her third year leading Guilford College as its ninth president. Jane is the first deaf woman to lead an American college or university and the first woman to lead Guilford.
Jane is guiding Guilford College through curricular and administrative innovation to become further distinguished as a “small liberal arts college of distinction doing a few things splendidly.” She has described three sources of inspiration that fuel pursuit of that vision: the college’s world-class faculty, its powerful Quaker heritage, and its unique commitment to community service and civic engagement.
Under Jane’s leadership, Guilford’s first-rate academic program is in an exciting period of renewal and renaissance, with many advances designed to provide inclusive academic excellence for a new generation of students.
Jane is an active voice and participant in addressing important societal and community concerns. She received national attention for her statement on North Carolina’s recently created HB2 law. And, she has led the campus in undertaking difficult conversations, examining meaningful ways to address systemic racism, gender inequity, sexual assault, and the provision of accessibility resources – four of the most serious issues facing campuses nationwide.
Members of the campus community have praised Jane’s willingness to support initiatives led by students and faculty, such as Every Campus a Refuge in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. In fact, last September, Jane was one of only 50 presidents from the nation’s colleges and universities to be invited to the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge Gathering in Washington, DC.
Jane’s higher education administrative career spans 30 years. Before taking the Guilford presidency, she served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina at Asheville for six years.