Columbia University will be led by a woman for the first time in its 268-year history

B.R. Shenoy

Six of the eight Ivy League schools will be led by a female president.
Columbia UniversityPhoto byIc3105/Pixabay

“What set Minouche apart as a candidate is her unshakable confidence in the vital role institutions of higher education can and must play in solving the world’s most complex problems," Jonathan Lavine, chair of the Columbia Board of Trustees, said in a letter to the community.

Columbia University announced this week that economist and former president of the London School of Economics Nemat "Minouche" Shafik will be the university's 20th president, per Forbes.

Shafik will be the first woman to hold the position in the university's 268-year history when she takes over in July. She will succeed Lee C. Bollinger, who will have been in the position for 21 years.

Other prestigious universities, such as Dartmouth, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and George Washington University have recently appointed female presidents.

Shafik, 60, was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and raised in the United States. She earned an undergraduate degree in economics and politics from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, a Master of Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Ph.D. from St. Antony's College at Oxford University.

Shafik began her career at the World Bank, where she rose to the position of vice president at the age of 36. She later worked as the International Monetary Fund's deputy managing director and a top official in the UK's Department for International Development.

Per Forbes:

“The announcement of Shafik’s selection follows a year of history-making women selected to helm elite institutions. Last year, Sian Leah Beilock was named the first woman president of Dartmouth College and Claudine Gay the first Black president of Harvard University and its second woman president. In addition, Times Higher Education reported that “[f]orty-three – or 21 per cent – of the top 200 universities in the latest 2022 ranking have a female leader,” an increase from 34 universities in 2018. Shafik’s historic appointment signals that all eight of the Ivy League schools have been led by a woman at some point in their history.”

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, the appointment of Nemat "Minouche" Shafik as the first female president of Columbia University is an essential milestone in the university's history. It reflects a growing trend of female leadership in higher education.

Her impressive educational and professional background, including her experience at organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, suggests she is well-suited for the role.

The increasing representation of women in leadership positions at elite universities is a positive step towards greater diversity and inclusivity in higher education.

What are your thoughts on this historic appointment? Let us know in the comments.

Related by B.R. Shenoy:

Harvard University announces Claudine Gay as 1st Black president, 2nd woman

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