Melissa L. Gilliam has been named the 11th president of Boston University.


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Since the institution’s establishment in 1839, she makes history as the first woman and Black leader to occupy this position, according to the Boston University College of Fine Arts

“I’m really excited about how engaged Boston University is in the city and how engagement has been a hallmark of BU,” Dr. Gilliam said, according to a news release. “I’m looking forward to hearing from people, learning and listening. I lead by listening, collaborating, and empowering other people. That is the best way to run big organizations, to get everyone excited and engaged and empowered and doing more than they think they’re capable of doing. This philosophy is core to shared governance, an essential component of a thriving university.”

Dr. Gilliam, who obtained degrees from both Yale and Oxford, is scheduled to step into her new position on July 1, 2024, succeeding Robert A. Brown. She brings a wealth of experience from her role as executive vice president and provost at The Ohio State University and professor of obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics. She is also recognized as a research scientist, physician, and leader of diversity and inclusion.

The decision by BU’s Board of Trustees to select Dr. Gilliam was informed by the school’s community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who expressed traits and qualifications they desire to see in the next president.

“It is a testament to Boston University’s accomplishments and momentum that we were able to attract candidates who were so highly qualified and with such enormous capability,” Ahmass Fakahany, chair of the BU Board of Trustees, explained in the news release. “We are at an incredible juncture, and we’ve earned the right to dream big and to fulfill the potential of this University. Hiring Dr. Melissa Gilliam is a tremendous step in that direction.”