Wellesley College names first black president
By NBP Staff | February 11, 2016, 13:09 EDT
WELLESLEY – Wellesley College named its first black leader Thursday, announcing Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Paula Johnson as the elite institution’s 14th president.
Johnson currently leads the women’s health division at the medical school in Boston as well as the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, which she founded at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She also teaches Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She has also served as the head of Boston’s Public Health Commission.
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“Paula Johnson is the perfect person to steer Wellesley into the future,” Laura Daignault Gates, the head of Wellesley’s board of trustees, said in a statement. “Paula has dedicated her distinguished career to improving the health and lives of women.”
“She not only has applied her deep intellectual capacity and medical training to these issues, but has led others in creating innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to addressing them,” Gates said. “She will now bring her talents, courage, grace, and lifelong commitment to women to Wellesley College.”
Current President H. Kim Bottomly last summer announced plans to step down after a nine-year term in July 2016. The all-women school’s board of trustees, advised by a search committee made up of alumnae, students, faculty and staff, unanimously approved Johnson’s appointment, ending an eight-month search.
“I am honored and humbled to be asked to serve as Wellesley’s president,” Johnson said in the statement. “I view this presidency as the capstone of my career, which has been devoted to the advancement of women through education and faculty development, and by working to improve their health and well-being,”
“The vital role that the college has played in educating women who impact the world in every domain has been very near and dear to my heart,” Johnson said. “I have spent my entire career literally 20 minutes from the Wellesley campus, and for nearly 27 years, I have been the daughter-in-law of a very proud Wellesley alumna.”
Johnson attended Harvard, where she received her doctor of medicine and master of public health degrees, Wellesley said. The Brooklyn, New York, native lives in Brookline with her husband and their two children.
Wellesley, one of the Ivy League’s traditional Seven Sisters, was founded in 1870, and has about 2,400 undergraduates.