Professor Valerie Smith first came to Princeton in 1980 as an instructor of English and Afro-American Studies; she received tenure in 1986. In 1989, she joined the faculty at UCLA as associate professor of English, where she ultimately served as chair of the Interdepartmental Program in African-American Studies. Smith returned to Princeton in 2001 as the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and Professor of English and African American Studies. She served as the founding director and led a major expansion of the Center for African American Studies, evolving it from an interdisciplinary program into a dynamic and top ranked center for teaching and research about race. Smith was appointed Dean of Students at Princeton in 2011.