Northwestern Names Economist Rebecca Blank as New President
(Bloomberg) -- Northwestern University named economist and former faculty member Rebecca Blank as president, making her the first woman to lead the school.
Blank, 66, takes over in the summer of 2022, according to an emailed statement Monday from the university in Evanston, Illinois. She succeeds Morton Schapiro.
The chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Blank’s career has focused on researching poverty, the low-income labor market and public policy. She was on Northwestern’s faculty from 1989 to 1999 and became the first woman to earn tenure in the economics department. She also worked in three presidential administrations, including as acting and deputy secretary of commerce to President Barack Obama.
“She is a distinguished scholar and visionary leader, who shares the ambitions of the board of trustees and university community for advancing Northwestern as an iconic institution,” J. Landis Martin, chairman of the board of trustees, said in the statement.
Northwestern is one of the wealthiest universities in the Midwest with an endowment of $11.1 billion as of fiscal 2020. Blank is a prodigious fund raiser. She helped raise more than $4 billion at UW-Madison and worked to increase diversity and access to the school, according to the statement. Among her initiatives is guaranteeing four years of free tuition to Wisconsin resident students whose household adjusted gross income is $60,000 or less.
Since she left Northwestern two decades ago, Blank said the campus looks bigger, with many new buildings. She said is looking forward to expanding research, deepening advising and career counseling and strengthening partnerships with the city of Chicago, the area and globally.
Even though she’s led the Wisconsin university since 2013, young women still stop her and note the importance that a woman heads the school.
“It clearly matters that they see someone who looks like them,” Blank said in an interview.
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