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Dartmouth College has named its first female president in the private Ivy League university’s over 250-year history.
Sian Leah Beilock, 46, the current president of Barnard College and a leading expert on the brain science behind “choking under pressure,” will become Dartmouth’s president July 1, 2023, succeeding Philip J. Hanlon.
Beilock, who will be Dartmouth’s 19th president, said she’s excited to bring all the different facets of herself to Dartmouth.
“I imagine a lot of people will ask me what it means to be Dartmouth’s first female president, and for some, they might think that I should not talk about that, I should just talk about being a president,” she said in a video statement Thursday.
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“But my research as a psychologist, and my colleagues have really shown that having multiple identities — I am a researcher, I am a president, I am a teacher, I’m a mother — all of those things actually impact what we bring to the table, how we can think across differences, and having those multiple identities I’m confident will help me put my best foot forward.”
Beilock’s research looks at brain and body factors influencing all types of performance, from test taking, to public speaking, to athletics. Her TED talk in 2017 on the subject has received over 2.4 million views.
“I think as a society we have a newfound appreciation and value for issues around anxiety and mental health, and I’m really excited to think with the Dartmouth community about how best to support our young people, and also how to make mental health and well-being part of the dialogue constantly, whether we’re in the classroom, outside it, or for all of us in our everyday lives,” Beilock told The Associated Press.
Beilock has focused on developing and implementing research-driven strategies to encourage women and girls in the fields of math and science.
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“I’m very interested in how we reduce barriers to entry, and how we promote success for women and underrepresented voices in areas of math and science, where they aren’t always as represented as they should be,” she said.
Beilock has been president of Barnard for five years. Before that, she was executive vice provost of the University of Chicago, where she focused on developing programs to support professional and personal development for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. She also worked with staff to build arts and theater at the university.
In a statement, Dartmouth’s board of trustees Chair Elizabeth Cahill Lempres said Beilock “embraces the teacher-scholar model” and is “both an outstanding communicator with a long record of impact and a skilled listener who encourages the exchange of ideas — among faculty, staff, students, and alumni.”
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Once Beilock begins her tenure, half of the Ivy League institutions — including Brown University, Cornell University and University of Pennsylvania — will be led by women.