This morning, Chair of the Board of Trustees Jonathan Lavine announced that Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics, will be the new President of Columbia University.

Nemat “Minouche” Shafik will serve as the 20th President of Columbia University, according to an email sent to the Columbia community by the Board of Trustees this morning. The full text of the announcement can be found below. 

Dr. Shafik will succeed President Bollinger on July 1 of this year, marking the end of Bollinger’s two-decade tenure at Columbia. Shafik will serve as the first female president in Columbia University’s 268 year history. Columbia is the last of the Ivy League Universities to have a woman serve as president. This decision follows other historic presidential appointments, including Harvard’s Claudia Gay, the university’s first Black president and the second woman, and Dartmouth’s first female president Sian Beilock, Barnard’s own outgoing president

The decision comes at the end of a lengthy search process. According to Jonathan Lavine, Head of the Board of Trustees, there were about 600 nominations for the role, and the Presidential Search Committee spent a total of 400 hours on candidate selection.

Shafik is the current head of the London School of Economics, a constituent college of the University of London. Prior to her tenure at the LSE, Shafik served as the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England until February 2017. She also served as the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund from 2011 to 2014. Shafik made history when she was named as the youngest ever vice-president of the World Bank at the age of 36. She was also named as a permanent member of the British House of Lords by Queen Elizabeth II, granting her the title of Baroness.

Shafik earned a BA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1983. She went to the UK for her graduate studies, earning an MSc in economics from the University of London in 1986 and a DPhil from St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford.

Shafik has had previous academic appointments as a teacher at Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania and at Georgetown University. She has authored and edited a number of books, including many publications focusing on the Middle East and North Africa. She recently authored a book in 2021, called What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society, focusing on how societal institutions can be reshaped to focus on mutual support and fighting inequities. 

Shortly after the announcement, Shafik addressed the Columbia community at the World Room in Pulitzer Hall, featured on livestream. In her remarks, she spoke of her long-lasting belief in the power of education which she says gave her stability during her turbulent childhood. Shafik fled Egypt with her parents at a young age, living in the United States until she returned to Alexandria, the city of her birth, at 15.

Shafik cited Columbia’s global reach and commitment to serving all levels of society as a reason for the University’s enduring influence, and expressed her excitement to join the Columbia Community. She also spotlighted the legacy and work of President Bollinger over the course of his 21-year tenure and thanked him and the search committee for their efforts and warm welcome. 

Email from Jonathan Lavine to students on Wednesday, January 18 at 10:06 AM:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

It is my great privilege to announce that Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, the current president of the London School of Economics and Political Science, has been named the 20th president of Columbia University. She will assume the role on July 1, 2023.

Minouche succeeds Lee C. Bollinger, who announced last year that he would conclude his exceptional 21-year tenure as Columbia’s president at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year.

In accordance with University Statutes and the By-Laws of the Trustees, a Presidential Search Committee was established by the Trustees last spring to identify Lee’s successor. In Minouche, we believed we found 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.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, and raised in the U.S., Minouche holds a Bachelor of Arts (Economics and Politics) from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; 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, becoming the bank’s youngest-ever vice president. She later served as Permanent Secretary of the U.K.’s Department for International Development, where she led a reimagining of British foreign aid policy; as Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in the midst of the European debt crisis; and as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, where she sat on all monetary, financial, and prudential policy committees and was responsible for a balance sheet of over £500 billion. During these years, she visited more than 100 countries.

In 2017, Minouche became the leader of the London School of Economics and Political Science, a large, urban university. At LSE, she has overseen vast improvements to the student experience and managed significant expansion and infrastructure projects, while maintaining a keen focus on LSE’s academic mission. As she has throughout her career, Minouche has distinguished herself as a tireless proponent of diversity and inclusion and a creative and thoughtful leader committed to cultivating—and unleashing—talent and teams in service of the public good. Her commitment to academic excellence is deep and abiding. As she has said, “what ultimately makes a great university is the excellence of its scholars. Recruiting, nurturing, and supporting outstanding scholarship is the foundation on which everything else is built.”

While her accomplishments are impressive, what set Minouche apart as a candidate was 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.

In her professional and academic work, in her public communications, including remarks at the recent COP27 opening ceremony, and in her recent book, What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract, Minouche challenges institutions and individuals to rethink how we can better support each other to address inequities and build thriving societies. At Columbia, this call to action will not only enrich our educational and research mission but also enhance our role as a neighbor and civic partner. My colleague on the Presidential Search Committee, the molecular biologist and Nobel Laureate Richard Axel, put it succinctly in noting that throughout her career, Minouche “approached problems with humanity and intellectual insight.”

On behalf of the Trustees, I extend my warmest thanks to members of the Presidential Search Committee and Advisory Committees and to Lisa Carnoy, our former co-chair, who ably led the most inclusive and exhaustive presidential search in Columbia’s history, challenging conventional wisdom and leaving no stone unturned. It was no small feat, because Lee is a remarkable leader who has transformed Columbia in his 21 years as President, leaving a legacy that will ripple through this institution for generations. In Minouche, we have found a similarly inspiring individual who will set Columbia on the course of a new transformative era. All of us who are privileged to call ourselves Columbians, who treasure this University and the excellence it represents, wholeheartedly welcome her.


Jonathan Lavine, Chair, on behalf of the Trustees of Columbia University

Minouche Shafik via Columbia University