Maurie McInnis named Yale’s next president

McInnis ’96 Ph.D., now president of Stony Brook University, will serve as Yale’s 24th president.
Maurie McInnis

Maurie McInnis (Photo by Dan Renzetti)

Yale University has appointed Maurie McInnis ’96 Ph.D. to serve as its 24th president.

McInnis, now president of Stony Brook University, was the unanimous choice of the Yale Board of Trustees, Josh Bekenstein ’80, senior trustee and chair of the presidential search committee, said Wednesday in a message to the Yale community.

A compelling leader, distinguished scholar, and devoted educator, she brings to the role a deep understanding of higher education and an unwavering commitment to our mission and academic priorities,” Bekenstein wrote on behalf of the full board. “Her experience and accomplishments over the past three decades have prepared her to lead Yale in the years ahead.”

McInnis, a cultural historian, succeeds Peter Salovey, who is returning to the faculty fulltime after 11 years as president. She starts July 1.

The search for Yale’s 24th leader was “robust” and designed “to cast a wide net and to gain different perspectives on the ideal qualities and qualifications of the next president,” Bekenstein said. The search committee received input from thousands of Yale students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the New Haven community through listening sessions, individual meetings, webform entries, and a student survey. It also consulted with leaders in and beyond higher education.

The committee’s subsequent deliberations drew from all your comments and suggestions,” Bekenstein wrote in the message.

In McInnis, who first joined Yale in 1989 as a graduate student in the Department of the History of Art, the committee “was excited by a leader who brought new perspectives from around the country and cared deeply about the best of Yale’s traditions.”

Over a three-decade career in higher education, McInnis has held teaching, research, and leadership roles, Bekenstein wrote, and for nearly two decades, has served in a series of senior positions at three “iconic universities.” At the University of Virginia, she shaped undergraduate academic programs as an associate dean and led academic affairs as a vice provost; at the University of Texas at Austin she was the provost. And as Stony Brook’s current president, she is responsible for the academics, research, and operations of a flagship university for the State of New York, as well as for Long Island’s “premier medical center,” which provides care for the entire region, Bekenstein said.

At Stony Brook, McInnis also shares responsibility for overseeing Brookhaven National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy facility for particle physics and nuclear energy, data, and quantum information sciences. And as the inaugural chair of the board of the New York Climate Exchange, she led the establishment of an international climate change solutions center in New York City.

By working with universities, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and community leaders, she has helped create a vibrant center that will improve the environment in New York City and provide solutions to the climate crisis that cities around the world can adopt,” Bekenstein said.

As a scholar, McInnis has also contributed significantly to her field, Bekenstein noted. She has written and edited numerous books and articles focused on the politics of art and slavery in the 19th-century American South, and has co-curated and contributed research to exhibitions and archival projects, winning prizes and other accolades.

Since her graduation from Yale, she has lived up to the mission of our university,” Bekenstein said, leading “with an unshakeable commitment to education and research for the common good.”

McInnis has also devoted herself to Yale, becoming a trustee in 2022, “volunteering her time and energy for our university’s future,” Bekenstein said.

From her service on the board, she appreciates what our community has achieved in realizing the university’s academic priorities,” he wrote. “She is committed to building on the momentum of President Peter Salovey’s leadership and finding new ways to advance the university’s commitment to extraordinary teaching and research that benefit people around the globe. She knows from her time at Yale and experience across the country the importance of creating an environment that encourages both vigorous debate and a deep sense of inclusivity and belonging.”

Maurie and I have been colleagues for years. We have worked together as presidents of member institutions of the Association of American Universities and as fellow trustees on the Yale Corporation. Her record as a leader, educator, and scholar reveals a deeply held belief in the power of education to improve the lives of individuals and strengthen communities.

In all her leadership positions, she has championed students and faculty members, opening new avenues for teaching, research, and scholarship. She has lived Yale’s mission to improve the world today and for future generations. I look forward to supporting Maurie in a role that has meant so much to me.”

McInnis returns to Yale and New Haven with her husband, Dean Johnson, who is retired from a career in business, and their two children.

When McInnis arrived at Yale as a graduate student 35 years ago, she said in her own message Wednesday, “I was welcomed into a community that valued curiosity, connection, excellence, and impact. Faculty members, fellow students, staff, and alumni fostered curiosity, encouraged connections between people and academic disciplines, and challenged one another to not only excel in our fields, but also to apply our abilities in improving the world. Those qualities shaped my life and career as I became an educator and art historian and took on leadership roles at universities, and they are the reasons I am excited and eager to return to Yale and New Haven as the next president of our university.”

McInnis’s top priority upon assuming the Yale presidency “is to reconnect with those I know and to meet so many more of you,” she wrote. “You make this university what it is. The community environment that brought me to Yale was created by those who came before us and has been sustained and enriched by all of us.”

She said she looks forward to introducing her family “to all that I love about our campus and home city. I know that they are excited to join me as I fall back into the routine of my youth and drop into all the art galleries and performances. We are especially excited to see the renovated Yale Peabody Museum. You will find us trying out pizza and all the great restaurants across the city and taking our dog, Angus, on long walks around campus and New Haven.”

In the years since she was a Yale student, McInnis said, “I have had the good fortune to come back to our campus regularly, as a colleague, an alumna, and in recent years as a trustee.

Over that time, I have seen Yale grow in incredible ways while maintaining the excellence and traditions that have been part of our university for over three centuries. Through immense challenges, under President Peter Salovey’s leadership, you have worked together to advance our mission of education, research, scholarship, preservation, and practice to improve the world. For that, I thank you and, especially, Peter. I am filling big shoes and am grateful to be stepping into the university at a time when the priorities are clear and the plan to achieve them is strong and bolstered by an excellent academic and administrative leadership team.”

Bekenstein, in his message, thanked the four faculty members who served on the search committee — Steven Berry, Daniel Colón-Ramos, Jacqueline Goldsby, and Anjelica Gonzalez — praising their “insights and deep commitment” and “partnership and collegiality.” He also thanked the student advisory council and Yale’s faculty, staff, and alumni “for helping to make our search process so robust.”

Berry, the David Swensen Professor of Economics in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), professor of management, and faculty director of the Tobin Center for Economic Policy, said he is “particularly impressed by President-elect McInnis’s leadership on the university’s core mission: research, teaching, and professional practice. Through her work in multiple faculty and administrative roles at universities across the country, she has shaped major research and educational initiatives that support and advance our key academic values.”

Colón-Ramos, the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at FAS and director of Wu Tsai Institute’s Center for Neurodevelopment and Plasticity, described McInnis as “a humanist with a deep understanding and appreciation for the sciences.”

Both as provost of the University of Texas at Austin and as president of Stony Brook, she has led and implemented keystone STEM-based research and educational initiatives,” he said. “Yale is at a historic junction, in the midst of the implementation of the science strategic initiatives, and the experiences and interests of President-elect McInnis will help us continue to prioritize these areas and achieve their successful implementations.”

Goldsby, the Thomas E. Donnelly Professor of African American Studies and of English and professor of American Studies in FAS, praised the president-elect as a model scholar for faculty and students alike.

What excites me about President-elect McInnis is that she comes to the job as a practicing humanist in all dimensions,” she said. “Her books on antebellum visual culture are award-winning and represent the incisive, rigorous scholarship Yale faculty produce and that we want our students to study. Moreover, she’s made her work accessible to broad audiences through exhibitions and digital projects.

Yale will benefit from her commitment as a scholar and educator and from the breadth of her leadership experiences at large universities. She has an impressive ability to balance fostering scientific innovation with advancing humanistic inquiry at an impressive scale.”

And Gonzalez, professor of biomedical engineering at Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science and faculty director of the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, underscored McInnis’s history of prioritizing “making a college education available to students of all backgrounds.”

She understands the power of education and is committed to continuing Yale’s progress in expanding access and affordability for students,” said Gonzalez, who is also head of Yale’s Davenport College. “I am certain she will foster new opportunities for students to grow and enter the world ready to thrive and make an impact. I also was impressed by how President-elect McInnis has established and advanced operations of transformative scientific initiatives, such as the New York Climate Exchange.

From what she has accomplished to date, I am confident that she will work with Yale faculty, students, staff, and alumni to realize our bold vision for the School of Engineering & Applied Science and our other strategic initiatives in the arts, humanities, and sciences.”

John King, chancellor of the State University of New York system, of which Stony Brook is part, praised McInnis as “an excellent president of SUNY’s Stony Brook University,” noting that she had hired “world-class faculty to accelerate Stony Brook’s research leadership,” secured a $500 million unrestricted endowment gift, and led Stony Brook’s “successful application — as the lead institution of the New York Climate Exchange — to develop a $700 million climate resilience campus on Governors Island.”

He continued: “Maurie’s commitment to advancing academic excellence, ensuring diversity and inclusion, and supporting outstanding faculty in doing their best teaching and research make her a phenomenal choice to lead Yale University. As a Yale alum, I am particularly excited about the impact Maurie’s passion for serving Pell-eligible students and increasing social mobility will have on the institution’s future.”

Now, Bekenstein wrote in his message to the Yale community, “We look forward to Maurie’s leadership of this institution, to working alongside you in supporting her, and to all that we will accomplish together in the years ahead.”


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