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Columbia University Names Nemat “Minouche” Shafik as 20th President

January 20, 2023
In a head shot, Nemat Shafik is looking slightly away from the camera, smiling. She has on a red top, black glasses and gold earrings. She is wearing a microphone.
Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Egyptian Nemat “Minouche” Shafik has been named the upcoming 20th President of Columbia University, effective 1 July, 2023. This will mark the first time a woman has led the institution.

Shafik, 60, has served as president of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) since 2017, and her appointment at Columbia makes her the newest among a growing number of women leading reputable American research institutions.

Her work at LSE included overseeing vast improvements to the student experience, recruiting academic thought leaders, and managing notable infrastructure expansion projects.

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.”

In a similar vein, both the current serving president of Columbia, Lee C. Bollinger, and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, expressed confidence in Shafik’s competences and mastery.

“[Shafik] has combined enormous intellect with interpersonal skills that were very impressive, navigating complex bureaucracies,” described Stiglitz. These bureaucracies, according to Stiglitz, “consist of very intelligent people and require dealing with them with respect, listening to them, and crafting solutions to the problems that they confront in a creative way.”

Shafik was born in Alexandria, Egypt. Her family fled the country during Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalization programme, moving to the United States in search of meaningful opportunities. Shafik attended countless schools in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

She obtained a Bachelor of the Arts in economics and politics from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She acquired a Master of Science in economics at LSE, later also becoming a Doctor of Philosophy in economics from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University.

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