Brown University announces new president
The appointment of Christina Paxson will maintain the current balance of male-to-female Ivy League presidents
March 2, 2012, 3:42 pm · Updated March 12, 2012, 12:13 am·
The current four-to-four ratio of male-to-female presidents in the Ivy League will remain intact.
Brown University announced Friday that Christina Paxson — the current dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University — will replace current Brown President Ruth Simmons.
Simmons announced in September that she will step down from her presidency at the close of the academic year.
At the time, Penn President Amy Gutmann — who, in addition to Simmons, Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust and Princeton President Shirley Tilghman, is one of four female presidents in the Ivy League — called it “remarkable” that the current male-to-female representation is evenly balanced.
In 1994, Penn became the first Ivy League school to bring in a permanent female president when Judith Rodin began her tenure at the University. The year before that, Claire Fagin had served as interim president of Penn.
The appointment of Paxson at Brown also comes less than a month after another top-tier institution with a female president, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced that current President Susan Hockfield will also step down.
In an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian in February, Gutmann said that she is “proud that higher education has substantially increased the proportion of highly qualified women in presidencies. Susan and Ruth made it possible for young women to dream bigger dreams.”
However, she added that “we can’t be complacent — it’s not a question of whether we’re hiring a male or a female, it’s a question of whether there is truly equal opportunity for highly qualified women as for men.”
In a statement, Paxson said she is looking forward to continuing her career at Brown.
“I am drawn to Brown’s distinctive approach to education and scholarship, with its emphasis on intellectual independence and free inquiry,” she said. “Under Ruth Simmons’ leadership, the university has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade. I look forward to working with the exceptional community that is Brown to continue to build this extraordinary institution.”
Gutmann believes Brown made an “absolutely inspired choice” in naming Paxson its next president.
“Christina is a superb interdisciplinary scholar and proven leader whose work at Princeton always stood out by virtue of being both innovative and inclusive. I’m sure that Chris will bring these very same qualities to her presidency at Brown,” Gutmann said in a statement. “I have no doubt that the Christina Paxson era at Brown will be nothing short of exceptional.”