President Lee C. Bollinger said of his successor, “I feel like, if I had looked all over the world for the best person to next lead Columbia, I would have chosen Minouche Shafik. Her expertise, her experiences—both personal and professional—and her general outlook on academic and public life make her an inspired appointment. I offer her my warmest congratulations and very best wishes as she takes on what I believe to be the best job in the world.”
Shafik has led the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) since 2017. There, she has overseen vast improvements to the student experience, recruited talented academic leaders, and managed significant expansion and infrastructure projects. She is a tireless proponent of diversity and inclusion and a creative and thoughtful leader committed to cultivating and promoting service to the public good. Shafik has edited, co-authored, or authored numerous articles and books, including, most recently, What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract (2021, Princeton University Press), in which she calls for a better social contract to underpin our economic system and challenges institutions and individuals to rethink how we can better support each other to thrive.
The selection of Shafik marks the first time since Columbia’s founding that the University will be led by a woman. Shafik also served as the first female leader of LSE and previously was the first female permanent secretary of the U.K. Department for International Development.
Nobel laureate and Columbia economics professor Joseph Stiglitz has known Shafik since the 1990s, when they were colleagues at the World Bank. He described her as a great economist, a great researcher, and a great listener. In each job she’s held, “she has combined enormous intellect with interpersonal skills that were very impressive, navigating complex bureaucracies.” These bureaucracies, Stiglitz said, consist of very intelligent people and require “dealing with them with respect, listening to them, and crafting solutions to the problems that they confront in a creative way.”
She has done this while keeping up “her commitment to intellectual inquiry.” Stiglitz continued, “at LSE, all the people I know there—and I have a lot of friends who teach there—all of them have enormous admiration for her.”