By Beks Freeman
Phi Beta Kappa member Nemat “Minouche” Shafik (ΦBK, University of Massachusetts) will replace Columbia University’s outgoing president Lee C. Bollinger (ΦBK, University of Oregon) making her the first woman president of the University. According to Columbia’s Office of the President, Bollinger announced that he will step down on June 30, 2023.
Setting records is not new to Shafik, who is currently the President and Vice Chancellor of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). According to her profiles at LSE and Columbia, Shafik graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and politics in 1983. At age 36, she became the youngest vice president the World Bank, where she worked on the institution’s first environmental report. She spent time in academia in the early 2000s, at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Economics Department at Georgetown University. She served as Permanent Secretary of the U.K.’s Department for International Development in 2008 before becoming Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and then Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. In 2017, she returned to academia at LSE, where she focused on rethinking the social contract in the modern economy.
Her most recent book, What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society, was published in 2021 (Princeton University Press). She has also written articles for numerous journals, including the Journal of African Finance and Economic Development, Oxford Economic Papers, The Middle East Journal, World Development, Columbia Journal of World Business, and the Journal of Development Economics.
“Minouche Shafik is the right leader for Colombia’s next chapter . . . an accomplished and inspirational president who will lead Columbia into the future,” wrote Lisa Carnoy, Columbia Trustee Emerita and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, in her gratitude statement to the Chair of Presidential Search Committee. In addition to the more than 80 faculty, staff, students, and alumni who were part of the search committee, Carnoy reported that Columbia received more than 5,000 responses to their surveys conducted over the last year, detailing “the significant opportunities for Columbia in the coming years and the experiences and qualities the next president should possess.” Carnoy continued, “The input from these surveys and the various meetings with the four advisory committees, the Policy and Planning Committee, and the Senate Executive Committee will inform the onboarding of President Shafik.”
Columbia University is excited to welcome Shafik to the presidency, Carnoy explained: “By working together across the University and with our many stakeholders, we conducted a search not on behalf of any single group, but one that was in the overall interests of Columbia and with the very best result.”
Jonathan Lavine, Chair of Trustees, concluded his announcement of Shafik’s position with glowing praise. “In Minouche, we believed we found the perfect candidate: a brilliant and able global leader, a community builder, and a preeminent economist, who understands the academy and the world beyond it . . . what set Minouche apart as a candidate was her unshakable confidence in the vital role institutions of higher education can and must play in solving the world’s most complex problems,” Lavine wrote. “Like all of us in the Columbia community, she believes that in order to bring about meaningful change, we have a collective obligation to combine our distinctive intellectual capacities with groups and organizations beyond the academy.”
Sunil Gulati (ΦBK, Bucknell University), the Michael K. Dakolias Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Economics and President of the Columbia University chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, also weighed in on Shafik’s dedication to the values of Phi Beta Kappa. “President-elect Shafik has expressed her deep commitment to liberal arts education, which is precisely what Phi Beta Kappa celebrates and recognizes in its members,” Gulati said. “We look forward to welcoming her to Columbia, where she, like all faculty in Arts and Sciences who are themselves Phi Beta Kappa members, are invited to participate in the selection and induction of a group of inspiring students to ΦBK each year.”
Beks Freeman (they/he) is a senior at Purdue University double majoring in acting and creative writing. They were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa there in April 2022. Purdue University is home to the Zeta of Indiana chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. In addition to their undergraduate studies, Freeman is pursuing acting, teaching, and fight directing certifications in stage combat with Dueling Arts International.