Yale University names Maurie McInnis its first female president.

Yale University appointed Maurie McInnis as its new president on Wednesday, marking the first time a woman has been chosen as the university’s leader in a permanent capacity since its establishment in 1701.

Coming from Stony Brook University in New York, McInnis will assume the role of the 24th president of the prestigious institution in New Haven on July 1, succeeding Peter Salovey, who declared in August that the current academic year would be his last after guiding the university for more than ten years. McInnis will make history as the inaugural female president of Yale in its 323-year legacy.

“It has been three decades since I have called Yale and New Haven home, but I have had the good fortune to come back to our campus regularly, as a colleague, an alumna, and in recent years as a trustee,” McInnis said in a message to the Yale campus community. “Over that time, I have seen Yale grow in incredible ways while maintaining the excellence and traditions that have been part of our university for over three centuries.”

The announcement on Wednesday followed an extensive search for Yale’s next leader, which engaged input from over 2,000 individuals within the campus community through various interactions, including individual meetings, listening sessions, and a student survey, as conveyed by a statement from Josh Bekenstein, the senior trustee and chair of the presidential search committee, representing the board. Nearly 130 leaders were submitted for consideration to the search committee.

“A compelling leader, distinguished scholar, and devoted educator, she brings to the role a deep understanding of higher education and an unwavering commitment to our mission and academic priorities,” Bekenstein remarked. “Her experience and accomplishments over the past three decades have prepared her to lead Yale in the years ahead.”

Yale University currently enrolls approximately 12,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs, with about 5,500 faculty members.

‘Unforeseen Opportunity Presented Itself’

In a message to the Stony Brook community, McInnis disclosed her decision to step down in June, with the appointment of an interim president on the horizon while the university initiates the search for a permanent successor.

“This opportunity arose unexpectedly. To a great extent, it is a direct result of the work that we have been doing at Stony Brook and the high regard nationally in which our university is held,” she elaborated.

In 2020, McInnis assumed the role of president at Stony Brook. She earned her Ph.D. in Art History from Yale University in 1996 and currently serves on the board of trustees at her alma mater. With a significant background in art politics and slavery in the nineteenth-century U.S. South, overseeing the Brookhaven National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy facility, and leading as the inaugural chair of the New York Climate Exchange, McInnis brings a wealth of experience. Prior to her tenure at Stony Brook, she held administrative positions at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia.

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Diversity in Academic Leadership

As the pioneering woman to occupy the position of non-interim president at Yale, McInnis acknowledged the pivotal role she holds in serving as “a role model for other women aspiring to leadership positions,” speaking to The New York Times.

“My deep commitment to advancing opportunities for students and for our prospective students is steadfast, certainly in my work at Stony Brook, and that will continue at Yale,” she expressed in an interview with the newspaper.

Though there has been a recent diversification in university leadership, the field has historically been male-dominated. However, data from the American Council on Education in 2023 revealed that one-third of college presidents are women, with 72% identifying as white and an average age of around 60. In comparison, about 55% of undergraduate students and 60% of graduate students are women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

White students account for approximately 53% of the undergraduate population and 61% of graduate programs.

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