Mar 5, 2021 | NEWS | By Riley Prillwitz | Photo courtesy of The President’s Office

The clock winds down as the days get closer and closer to a new Colorado College presidency. It has been three months since the school announced that the Board of Trustees had chosen a new president. On Dec. 9, L. Song Richardson was unanimously voted as the 14th President of CC.

L. Song Richardson is the current Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law at University of California, Irvine School of Law. On July 1, 2021, she will officially become the new President at CC.

President-elect Richardson grew up on a military base with her family in a fairly diverse environment.

“My father was Black and my mother was Korean,” Richardson said. When she attended Scott College for her undergraduate degree, it was a “shock” because “people were paying attention to my race in ways they never had before.”

The experiences she had involving her race led her to become interested in the study of social psychology. But then she took a class on race and the death penalty in her last semester of law school.

“I realized the civil rights fight of my lifetime was in the criminal justice system,” Richardson said.

After working as a civil rights lawyer for some time, she became a law professor at UC Irvine. When she was named Dean, she was the only woman of color to lead a top-30 law school.

“I definitely felt imposter syndrome, 100%,” she said. “What I learned from that position is the responsibility it carries, and by that I mean, when you are in the minority in any position where there is a spotlight, they are watching you, potentially judging you, and paying attention to you.”

At the same time, it was an incredibly humbling experience for her. “It was important for students to see themselves as leaders after my leadership role,” Richardson said.  

The CC search firm was the one who initially reached out to President-elect Richardson about the open position on campus. At first, she was not going to take the job. “I love where I am at so my initial response was no, thank you so much,” she said.

“But they were persistent,” Richardson said. “I finally read the materials about CC that they sent me, and to say that I fell in love with [the school] is not an exaggeration. It reminds me a lot of the school I was at, and so I became incredibly excited about the potential to be at CC.”

When asked about what interests her most about CC, she said, “it is the culture and the mission because I think that encompasses everything [about the school].”

Richardson also respects “how creative and innovative and resilient [the] community is. There’s always this desire to read all the material, to push the envelope, to really take risks, to fail, to think outside of the box. That’s what excites me.”

The individuality of the CC culture is a draw to many, especially the Block Plan. President-elect Richardson is not an exception.

“I fell in love with the Block Plan because it allows students to dive deep into one issue and really learn. That’s how I learn, so I love the Block Plan.”

The future president was also impressed with the measures being taken on campus to make sure CC is as inclusive as it could be. The anti-racism initiative is one of those factors that Richardson wants to continue through her presidency.

“I also love that the school came together and made the anti-racism initiative before it became the ‘cool’ thing,” she said. “The community came together to really address issues that have affected the country.”

These are some of the factors that contribute to President-elect Richardson’s desire to be part of CC. Because of the current pandemic, she has not been able to visit campus yet, so the desire is that much more prominent.

“The thing that excites me most is getting to campus and meeting with students and learning what you love about CC and what your vision of CC is,” Richardson said.

But she also has some apprehensions about her move from sunny California. “The cold and the snow are what makes me nervous,” she said.

Despite the drastic change in climate, Richardson is ready to commit to the future of the college. She wants to keep CC on the positive trajectory that it is currently on.

“I think we’re going to continue to lead the nation in the innovative, creative ways that we already have shown we can do,” she said. “I believe we are going to become better than we already are … We can become the most diverse liberal arts college in the country.”

“You’re already on that path … with the anti-racism initiative and other remarkable achievements like sustainability and art,” she continued. “There are too many to name. Basically, becoming more of who you are.”

Until President-elect Richardson is here on campus with the rest of the CC community, there is one thing that she wishes for everyone to hear: “I guess it may sound simple, but I want people to know how excited I am to work with every single one of you, [and] to dream about the incredible future we have ahead of us.”

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