New York University has tapped longtime senior administrator Linda Mills as its first female president, the university announced on Wednesday.
Mills, a professor of social work, public policy and law, comes to the post with more than a decade of experience as the university’s vice chancellor and senior vice provost for Global Programs and University Life, including study abroad programs.
“One of the wonderful things about NYU is that, even after dedicating 24 years of my life to this extraordinary university, there is always more to discover,” said Mills in a statement.
“I am eager to meet so many more of NYU’s remarkable people; I intend to step into this new role with fresh eyes, excited to see the University and all its possibilities through their unique perspectives,” she added.
Mills led recruitment for the first class of students on NYU’s Abu Dhabi location, and established mental health resources and multi-faith programs with Chelsea Clinton on the Manhattan campus, the university said. She also founded the university’s pandemic-era “GoLocal” program, which allowed students technically enrolled at one campus to take in-person courses at the location closest to them.
Her research has centered around trauma, bias and domestic violence, according to a university press release, and she serves as executive director of the NYU Center on Violence and Recovery.
Mills has a master’s degree and two doctorates in law, social work and health policy.
“Each of these disciplines gives me a unique ability to observe the world, to be curious about the world, to listen and always to ask questions,” said Mills. “And right now, this is a moment in history where we need to ask a whole lot of questions.”
The president-designate said higher education is “under attack” — while inequality, from racism to anti-Semitism, and mental health concerns persist. She called arts and humanities “misunderstood” but essential in making sense of the past and build a better future.
“NYU has a role to play in each and every one of these issues,” said Mills.
She was selected unanimously by the Board of Trustees, following a six-month international search that considered more than 100 candidates.
“Linda has been deeply involved in many of NYU’s most important undertakings over the past decade,” said William Berkley, the chair of the Board of Trustees, announcing her appointment.
“She brings a data-driven approach to analysis and decision-making, yet never loses sight of the very human elements at the heart of a university — the passion of scholars for their field, the interaction between faculty member and student, the ambitions and welfare of students in and out of the classroom, and the trust that students’ families place in us,” he said.
The university’s current president, Andrew Hamilton, announced last April his intent to step down after eight years this summer.
“Throughout my time as president, she has been deeply involved in the University’s strategic decision-making,” said Hamilton in a statement, “bringing to our deliberations not just savvy but also a keen and passionate understanding of our students’ welfare and experience and of the human factors that make a university education so much more than a simple transfer of knowledge.”
“The Board’s naming Linda was a wise and excellent choice. I congratulate her, and couldn’t be happier for her and NYU,” he said.
Mills’ appointment comes less than a month after NYU’s uptown neighbor, Columbia University, named its first female president in March.
Her tenure begins on July 1.