Yale University Appoints Maurie McInnis as First Female President: A Historic Milestone

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Maurie McInnis becomes Yale University’s first female president, bringing a wealth of academic leadership and a commitment to innovation and inclusivity. Learn more about her historic appointment and vision for Yale.

In a historic move, Yale University announced the appointment of Maurie McInnis as its 24th president, making her the first woman to hold the position permanently. McInnis, a seasoned higher education leader and cultural historian, is set to succeed Peter Salovey, who has served as Yale’s president for the past decade. The decision, made unanimously by Yale’s Board of Trustees, marks a significant milestone in the university’s long and storied history.

Yale University names Maurie McInnis
Yale University names Maurie McInnis

McInnis’ Background and Career

Maurie McInnis, 58, has been a prominent figure in academia, currently serving as the president of Stony Brook University in New York. Her tenure at Stony Brook began in 2020, following her role as executive vice president and provost of the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to that, she was the vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Virginia. McInnis’ academic journey is closely tied to Yale, where she earned her master’s degree and doctorate in art history, with a focus on the politics of art and slavery in the southern United States during the 1800s.

Her scholarly contributions and leadership experience were key factors in her selection. “A compelling leader, distinguished scholar, and devoted educator, she brings to the role a deep understanding of higher education and an unwavering commitment to our mission and academic priorities,” said senior trustee Josh Bekenstein in a statement.

Vision for Yale University

McInnis is slated to begin her new role on July 1, 2024. She expressed enthusiasm about returning to Yale, a place she regards with deep affection and respect. “I look forward to many things when I begin my service,” McInnis said. “At the top of the list is to reconnect with those I know and to meet so many more of you. You make this university what it is.”

She acknowledged the contributions of Yale’s faculty, staff, and students, highlighting their excellence and innovation. “Our faculty members are not only international leaders in their own fields but also drive innovation in other academic disciplines and progress in other sectors. Our talented staff advance every aspect of our university and bring excellence to all they do. Similarly, our students excel in their studies, while also making Yale a richer community through their art making, advocacy, and deep engagement with the local community.”

Challenges and Priorities

As she steps into her new role, McInnis plans to conduct listening sessions and individual meetings to understand the concerns and aspirations of the Yale community. She inherits the leadership of an institution with a $40 billion endowment, about 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 5,500 faculty members, and approximately 11,600 staff.

Yale, like many universities, has faced challenges recently, including protests over the Israel-Hamas war, which led to student arrests. McInnis has experience managing such situations; at Stony Brook, she upheld students’ rights to free expression and peaceful assembly while ensuring that protests did not disrupt the academic environment or compromise safety.

Academic and Leadership Excellence

McInnis’ academic leadership and scholarship have been widely recognized. Yale’s search committee praised her for these attributes, noting her significant contributions to the humanities. Jacqueline Goldsby, a professor of African American studies, English, and American studies at Yale, expressed her excitement about McInnis’ appointment. “What excites me about President-elect McInnis is that she comes to the job as a practicing humanist in all dimensions,” Goldsby said. “Her books on antebellum visual culture are award-winning and represent the incisive, rigorous scholarship Yale faculty produce and that we want our students to study.”

Contributions to Climate Change Initiatives

Beyond her academic and administrative roles, McInnis has been actively involved in addressing climate change. She is the first board chair of the New York Climate Exchange and led the founding of an international climate change solutions center in New York City. Her work in this area aligns with Yale’s increasing focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Historical Significance

Maurie McInnis’ appointment as Yale’s first female president is a landmark event. The only other woman to lead Yale was Hanna Holborn Gray, who served as acting president from 1977 to 1978. Gray’s designation was later changed to recognize her full presidential status post-tenure, but McInnis is the first to be appointed with full recognition from the outset.


As Maurie McInnis prepares to take the helm of Yale University, she brings with her a wealth of experience, a strong academic background, and a commitment to fostering an inclusive and innovative academic environment. Her leadership is expected to guide Yale into a new era of excellence and growth, building on its rich history and addressing contemporary challenges with a forward-looking vision. The Yale community and the broader academic world will be watching closely as she embarks on this historic journey.

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