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Yale elects head of Stony Brook University as new president

The new president of Yale University will be Maurie D. McInnis, currently president of Stony Brook University, a public university in New York State where she is known for raising the school’s profile, donations and prestige.

When she takes over from outgoing Yale President Peter Salovey in July, Dr. McInnis, who earned master’s and doctoral degrees from Yale in the 1990s, will become the university’s first permanent female president.

Her selection followed a search that began last fall. The delay in announcing a successor to Dr. Salovey, who will leave his post at the end of June, led to speculation that the university’s search committee was struggling to find someone during a tumultuous time on college campuses.

Joshua Bekenstein, a founding partner of Bain Capital and head of Yale Corporation, the university’s governing body, said the search committee had conducted a “very thorough” selection process.

“We felt it was important to do all the work,” he said. He expressed his confidence in Dr. McInnis, adding, “She’s going to do a fantastic job.”

Dr. McInnis, who serves on Yale’s board of trustees, will assume the presidency at a complex time, as universities grapple with challenges stemming from last year’s Supreme Court decision to ban admissions based on race and the likely continuation of pro-Palestinian protests over the war between Israel and Hamas.

As if to underscore the dangers she could face, a group of two hundred professors calling themselves Scholars for the Public Good began spreading a message within minutes of the announcement. letter Dr. McInnis is urged to resist pressure from donors and politicians who want to undermine campus diversity, free speech and educational quality.

In a brief interview Wednesday, Dr. McInnis said she is committed to maintaining a diverse campus at Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling.

“My deep commitment to advancing opportunity for students and for our future students has been steadfast, especially in my work at Stony Brook, and will continue to be so at Yale,” said Dr. McInnis in the interview, adding: “And none of that will change if I get the court’s ruling.”

Yale has not yet released demographic information about the new class.

Dr. McInnis survived a vote by the Stony Brook faculty council over her decision to arrest protesters on campus in May. She defended that decision Wednesday, saying, “No president wants to ask the authorities to intervene and disperse the student protesters. And when we realized they weren’t going to disperse, it was a calm and orderly affair.”

At Stony Brook, Dr. McInnis, 58, received a $500 million donation from the Simons Foundation and won a competition to lead the creation of a state climate change plan. campus on Governors Island in New York City.

Lisa Benz Scott, a professor who directs Stony Brook’s public health program, praised Dr. McInnis during the pandemic and said Dr. McInnis was “hands-on” with students.

“You could see her in jeans and a Stony Brook T-shirt at student events,” said Dr. Benz Scott.

Richard K. Larson, the head of Stony Brook’s faculty council, agreed that Dr. McInnis performed “brilliantly” during her first three years as president of Stony Brook, but he criticized her more recent board duties.

“Where it got a lot harder, and where this administration reached its sell-by date, was in the last year,” said Dr. Larson, who criticized Dr. McInnis’ decision to arrest protesting students. That was why the vote on the motion of censure was so close, 51 to 55 with three abstentions, according to Dr. Larson, a professor of linguistics.

Before coming to Stony Brook, Dr. McInnis served as provost at the University of Texas, where she was sometimes seen rowing on Lady Bird Lake. She spent much of her earlier career at the University of Virginia, where she earned her undergraduate degree and later served as both a professor and vice provost.

Dr. McInnis’s academic field is art history. Much of her scholarship focuses on the interplay between art and politics, particularly the politics of slavery. Her most recent book, published in 2019, is “Educated in Tyranny: Slavery at Thomas Jefferson’s University.”

Although Dr. McInnis will become the first woman to serve as permanent president of Yale, the university has previously been led by a woman, when historian Hanna Holborn Gray was chosen as interim president in 1977. Dr. Gray subsequently became president of the University of Chicago and is currently a professor emeritus there.

Reflecting on her own historic selection, Dr. McInnis said she was acutely aware of how she could “serve as a role model for other women pursuing leadership positions.”

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