A Northwestern University first — woman named as presidentStefano Espositoon October 11, 2021 at 3:04 pm

Rebecca M. Blank, chancellor at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, has been named as Northwestern University president — the institution’s first ever woman in that role. | Northwestern University

Rebecca M. Blank, chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, takes the helm in Summer 2022.

For the first time in its history, Northwestern University has named a woman to lead the institution.

Rebecca M. Blank, the chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is set to become Northwestern’s 17th president when she takes the position in summer 2022, the university announced Monday

“I am honored and delighted to accept the job as Northwestern’s next president,” Blank said in a statement issued by the university. “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.”

In addition to her role as chancellor, Blank is an internationally renowned economist specializing in researching poverty and the low-income labor market, according to Northwestern.

Blank is also a former Northwestern professor, teaching economics. Decades ago, she became the department’s first tenured woman professor, Northwestern said.

“The Presidential Search Committee met with an incredibly competitive pool of candidates and unanimously recommended Rebecca Blank to the Board for election as our 17th president,” Peter Barris, chair of the search committee and a vice chair of the Board of Trustees, said in a statement.

“As part of our process, we heard from all segments of the University community, and I believe Chancellor Blank’s deep experience and talents will support our current needs and position us for a promising future.”

Blank will succeed Morton Schapiro, who has been president of the Evanston school since September 2009. Schapiro also is a professor of economics. Last year, Schapiro came under fire — with some even calling for his resignation — after he criticized student protesters and accused them of anti-Semitism after demonstrations demanding the disbandment of the school’s police force.

The calls to resign began after Schapiro wrote a letter saying protesters should be “ashamed” of using an anti-Semitic trope by calling him “piggy Morty.” In the letter, he called protesters “disgraceful” and said the school had “absolutely no intention” of abolishing its police force.

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