Columbia University Names Nemat Shafik To Be Its Next President


Columbia University announced today that Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, a leading economist who is currently President of the London School of Economics and Political Science, has been chosen to become its 20th president, beginning her term on July 1, 2023. She will succeed Lee C. Bollinger, who will be stepping down as Columbia’s president at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year.

Dr. Shafik will be the first woman to serve as president of Columbia University. Bollinger, who’s led Columbia since 2002, praised her appointment, saying, “her expertise, her experiences—both personal and professional—and her general outlook on academic and public life make her an inspired appointment.”

In a letter to the Columbia community, Jonathan Lavine, chair of the Columbia Board of Trustees, described Shafik as “the perfect candidate: a brilliant and able global leader, a community builder, and a preeminent economist who understands the academy and the world beyond it.”

“What set Minouche apart as a candidate,” Lavine wrote, “is her unshakable confidence in the vital role institutions of higher education can and must play in solving the world’s most complex problems. Like all of us in the Columbia community, she believes that in order to bring about meaningful change, we have a collective obligation to combine our distinctive intellectual capacities with groups and organizations beyond the academy.”

A native of Egypt, Shafik came to the United States with her family at the age of four. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Politics from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, followed by a Master of Science (Economics) from the London School of Economics and Political Science; and a Doctor of Philosophy (Economics) from St Antony’s College, Oxford University.

Minouche began her career in the early 1990s at the World Bank, where she became the bank’s youngest-ever vice president. She later served as Permanent Secretary of the U.K.’s Department for International Development; Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, where she sat on all monetary, financial, and prudential policy committees and oversaw a balance sheet of over £500 billion.

In 2017, she was named the President and Vice Chancellor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has previously taught at Georgetown University and the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Shafik has served on and chaired numerous boards and currently serves as a Trustee of the British Museum, the Supervisory Board of Siemens, the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Economy Honours Committee, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The author of several books and articles, she has explored how global institutions need to go beyond technocratic expertise and engage more fully with the people they serve. Her most recent book is What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract, published in 2021 by Princeton University Press. In it, Shafik examines how generous and inclusive societies should do more than provide the basics to their citizens, arguing that they should also share risks collectively and foster greater interdependencies and supports among individuals.

Shafik has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from the University of Warwick, the University of Reading, the University of Glasgow, and the American University in Beirut, and was selected “Woman of the Year” at the Global Leadership and Global Diversity awards in 2009. She also was named to Forbes “100 Most Powerful Women” in 2015.

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