Sarah Mangelsdorf has been named the 11th University president. She will be the first woman to lead the school.

Currently the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s provost, she will succeed University President Richard Feldman starting in the summer of 2019. Feldman has been president since Joel Seligman resigned from the presidency this past February in the wake of the Jaeger report.

The University-wide email announcing her selection, through the Board of Trustees, called Mangelsdorf “an experienced academic leader recognized for her work on issues of academic quality, educational access, and diversity and inclusion.”

At the University of Illinois, she was the first woman to head the psychology department. UR’s email stated that Mangelsdorf is “internationally known” for her psychology research on early child development.

“[H]er warmth was something that this position has really needed,” SA Senate speaker junior Leif Johansen said. “When Seligman was president he would often greet students by saying ‘hello Student’ […] that’s not a nice interpersonal relationship to have.”

Johansen hopes Mangelsdorf will be able to lead in a way that “builds relationships with students.” He is already encouraged by her “glowing personality.”

Professor Michael Scott, co-chair of the faculty presidential search committee, said that Mangelsdorf has “a reputation for working closely and transparently with faculty, staff, and students.” 

“Her research on child development is very highly regarded and is a great academic fit for Rochester,” Scott added.

Trustee Tom Richards noted that Mangelsdorf, as provost at Wisconsin, kept a “close relationship” with the medical center there.

Mangelsdorf worked on a diverse hiring initiative and financial aid effort at Wisconsin. Sarah Blank, chancellor at Wisconsin, spoke of Mangelsdorf’s high reputation there.

“[S]he’s elevated the quality of our faculty, expanded academic programs, and improved our student outcomes,” Blank said.

In Mangelsdorf’s current role at Wisconsin, she oversees the academics and budget of 12 schools and colleges. Before her time there, she was a dean at Northwestern.

Feldman commented that Mangelsdorf’s academic and administrative experience, similar to his own, would give her a beneficial perspective.

UR’s email mentioned her appointment as “the culmination of a months-long and inclusive search process.” An outside higher education search firm organized this process, which was led internally by the Trustees’ Search Committee.

The Committee received “additional input” from the student, faculty, and staff committees. The email said that this input, plus feedback from a University-wide survey, “helped to develop the position description and to identify preferred attributes for final candidates.”

Jamal Rossi, Eastman dean and faculty committee member, described the search as “remarkably inclusive and deliberative.”

At the official announcement this morning in the Hawkins-Carlson room, Mangelsdorf spoke to the University for the first time.

She thanked the administration for placing trust in her. “I will do everything in my power to justify that trust,” she said. She also mentioned her goal of integrating Eastman more into the UR community.

In her final remark, she stressed working with every member of the UR community. “I look forward to working collaboratively with all of you to help us reach our goals.”

First-year Lily Hutton, deputy speaker of SA Senate, was enthusiastic about the announcement.

“It’s great to have a female role model in the highest position,” Hutton said. “It’s a historical moment.”


News Editor Efua Agyare-Kumi contributed reporting on this piece.

Tagged: President

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