As Yale appoints first permanent female president, she vows to focus on diversity

McInnis's appointment ends a nine-month search for a replacement for Peter Salovey, who is retiring to teach at the Ivy League in Connecticut.

Published: May 29, 2024 6:49pm

Yale University announced its first official female president on Wednesday, naming Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis to the permanent position. 

McInnis has served on the Yale board of trustees since 2022, while simultaneously serving as the president of Stony Brook. A Yale alumna, McInnis earned her Master's and Doctoral degrees at the Ivy League school. She studied art history and the politics of art and slavery in the United States, according to the Associated Press.

McInnis's appointment ends a nine-month search for a replacement for Peter Salovey, who is retiring to teach at the school.

“I’m so honored and humbled to be able to be Yale’s next leader, the chance to come back to my alma mater, to an institution that has such a positive impact on people across the world,” McInnis told the Yale Daily News. “I do understand that the fact that I will be the first non-interim woman serving in that role means that I can play an important role as a role model.”

The university has had one other female president, who served as an "acting" president from 1977 to 1978. But the "acting" designation was later removed.

The former New Yorker also said she would keep her school focused on diversity, despite a Supreme Court ruling last year that barred the use of affirmative action in campus admissions.

“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,” McInnis told the New York Times. "None of that changes with the court ruling.” 

The appointment comes after a censure vote against McInnis narrowly failed at Stony Brook, after 29 students were arrested on the university campus for anti-Israel encampments. Yale also saw students arrested last month. But supporters of McInnis praised her work on climate change, and her academic leadership.

“What excites me about President-elect McInnis is that she comes to the job as a practicing humanist in all dimensions,” Jacqueline Goldsby, a professor of African American studies, English and American studies at Yale, told the AP. “Her books on antebellum visual culture are award-winning and represent the incisive, rigorous scholarship Yale faculty produce and that we want our students to study.”

McInnis will assume the post on July 1.

Misty Severi is an evening news reporter for Just the News. You can follow her on X for more coverage.

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