Columbia University names Egyptian-born economist as first woman president

Nemat 'Minouche' Shafik the first woman to land prestigious Ivy League position

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Roger Askew/The Oxford Union/Shutterstock (8467472e)
Dame Nemat Shafik - Economist, Former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, and next Director of the London School of Economics
Dame Minouche Shafik at the Oxford Union, UK - 22 Feb 2017
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Columbia University in New York has appointed Egyptian-born economist Baroness Nemat "Minouche" Shafik as its president, it announced on Wednesday.

Baroness Shafik, who is currently director of the London School of Economics (LSE), will be the 20th head of Columbia and the first woman to lead the Ivy league establishment.

In a letter to the university, Jonathan Lavine, chairman of the Columbia Board of Trustees, called Baroness Shafik an ideal candidate.

“[She’s] a brilliant and able global leader, a community builder and a pre-eminent economist who understands the academy and the world beyond it,” he said.

Before heading LSE, Baroness Shafik was deputy governor of the Bank of England from 2014 to 2017, serving under Mark Carney, when she managed its $605 billion balance sheet.

Her career has straddled public policy and academia with stints at the World Bank, Georgetown University in Washington and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She holds British and US citizenship.

"One of the things I’ve admired about Minouche is that she’s kept up her commitment to intellectual inquiry even as she’s continued to work in jobs with enormous responsibility," said Nobel laureate and Columbia professor Joseph Stiglitz on the university's website.

Baroness Shafik graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston in 1993 and then earned a master's degree from the University of London and a doctorate from the University of Oxford.

Though born in Alexandria, her family fled Egypt when she was four, after president Gamal Abdel Nasser began nationalising the country.

She grew up in the southern US, spending time in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina, a statement released by Columbia said.

In 2015, she was given the title of Baroness in the Order of the British Empire.

She will start her new position in July.

Updated: January 18, 2023, 8:35 PM