There was a terrific piece recently in “The Chronicle of Higher Education” written by Audrey Williams June. The piece, entitled “Gender Balance at the Top of Ivy League Colleges Remains an Outlier in Academe” focuses on how four — as in half — of the Ivy League colleges were led by female presidents in 2007, a stark contrast from even just several years before. Presently, that figure remains the same — female presidents lead four of the eight Ivy League institutions.
In 2007, Shirley M. Tilghman served as president of Princeton University (Christopher L. Eisgruber is the current president of Princeton). At Dartmouth College, James Wright was wrapping up his tenure. He would be succeeded by Jim Yong Kim, the current president of the World Bank. Kim was the first Asian American president of an Ivy League institution (the current president of Dartmouth is Philip J. Hanlon). At Cornell University, David Skorkon served as president in 2007, but he was succeeded by the late Elizabeth Garrett (the current president of Cornell is Martha E. Pollack).
Half of the Ivy League colleges are currently led by women. But these schools are largely an outlier across the landscape of American universities.
At Yale University, Richard Levin served as president in 2007, and he was succeeded by Peter Salovey. A female has only held the top post at Yale on a pro tempore basis — Hanna Holborn Gray. At the University of Pennsylvania, Amy Gutmann has served as president since 2004 (and she had succeeded Judih Rodin who served in the role for a decade). At Harvard University, Drew Gilpin Faust has served as president since 2007, though she’ll be stepping down from her post at the end of next year. At Columbia University, Lee Bollinger has been in charge since 2002. And at Brown University, Christina Paxson serves as president. Paxson succeeded Ruth Simmons, the barrier-breaking first African American president of an Ivy League institution.
But the piece in “The Chronicle of Higher Education” isn’t just about how half of the Ivy League colleges are led by female presidents. It’s about how other colleges across America haven’t really followed this trend — how the Ivy League is, in many ways, an outlier in this respect. Do check out the piece to gain an understanding of the gender imbalance at the top of American universities. It sure does make you appreciate how a school like the University of Pennsylvania has been led for so many years by women. Way to go, UPenn!