Northwestern University Names First Woman President in its 170-Year History

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Northwestern University has chosen a woman to serve as its president for the first time since the institution was founded in 1851.

Rebecca Blank, who currently serves as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will become the 17th president of Northwestern in summer 2022.

“I am honored and delighted to accept the job as Northwestern’s next president,” Blank said in a press statement. “Northwestern is a school that I have known and admired for years. Its reputation as a top-rated educational and research institution has grown each decade. It will be my mission to make sure the institution’s reputation and quality continues to accelerate.”

Blank was a faculty member at Northwestern from 1989 to 1999 and was the first woman to receive tenure in the university’s economics department. She has also acted as an economics adviser for three presidential administrations, including serving as U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Barack Obama in 2012.

“[Blank] is a distinguished scholar and visionary leader, who shares the ambitions of the Board of Trustees and university community for advancing Northwestern as an iconic institution,” J. Landis Martin, chairman for Northwestern’s board of trustees, stated in a news release. “Her bold vision for the university’s role in the world and her proven ability to lead a collaborative academic research enterprise will guide our institution toward greater eminence and impact.”