Yale News

Maurie McInnis GRD ’90 GRD ’96 will assume the role of Yale University’s 24th president, succeeding President Peter Salovey, per an email announcement Wednesday morning. She will begin her tenure on July 1.

McInnis is president of Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York, and has served as a successor trustee of the Yale Corporation since 2022. She received her bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Virginia in 1988 before earning her master’s and doctorate degrees from Yale in the History of Art in 1990 and 1996, respectively. She held several academic and administrative positions at the University of Virginia before serving as provost of the University of Texas at Austin from 2016 to 2020 until she was appointed as Stony Brook’s president. 

McInnis will be Yale’s first female president to serve in a non-interim capacity. 

“I’m so honored and humbled to be able to be Yale’s next leader, the chance to come back to my alma mater, to an institution that has such a positive impact on people across the world,” McInnis told the News Wednesday morning. “I do understand that the fact that I will be the first non-interim woman serving in that role means that I can play an important role as a role model.”

Previously, Hanna Holborn Gray served as interim president from 1977 to 1978 after the former president Kingman Brewster ’41 resigned from office.

The announcement concludes a nearly nine-month search process that began when Salovey informed the Yale community last August that the 2023-24 academic year would be his last at Yale’s helm. 

The search occurred in a year fraught with backlash against college presidents and comes at a time of increased leadership turnover in American higher education, as the role of university presidents becomes more complex and the subject of intense scrutiny by an institution’s various constituents, the media and the public. Three other Ivy League institutions — Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University — are looking for a new president.

In her announcement, McInnis wrote that she looks forward to meeting the University’s students, faculty, staff and alumni and “continuing the spirit of listening and collaboration.” McInnis wrote that she intends to hold listening sessions and individual meetings in the months ahead.

During a Wednesday morning interview, McInnis reiterated her commitment to “tackle the world’s most pressing challenges” by working alongside the Yale community to create a vision for the ways in which Yale will improve the world now and in the future.    

McInnis’ appointment comes as leaders at Yale and higher education institutions across the country have faced heightened scrutiny about campus antisemitism, Islamophobia and their responses to the student activism in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war. Prior to the summer recess, Yale’s campus was rocked by unprecedented student demonstrations calling for divestment from University investments in military weapons manufacturers. Following a three-night encampment on Beinecke Plaza, police arrested 48 individuals — among them 44 students — on the morning of April 22.

“There’s no doubt that this is an incredibly complicated moment, not just for higher education, but in the world,” McInnis said. “And I look forward to working with this community on those challenges as we build our collaborative response.”

Joshua Bekenstein ’80, senior trustee of the Corporation, told the News that the search committee received nominations for 128 leaders in higher education and other sectors. 

Bekenstein added that this is the first time in recent history that Yale’s president has come from the Corporation.

“In the end, all 15 trustees were extremely excited and it was a very, very unanimous vote with extreme levels of excitement about the future,” Bekenstein said. “Peter Salovey has done a fantastic job for 11 years, putting Yale where we are today, and we believe that Maurie will be a fantastic leader on a go-forward basis.”

During McInnis’s tenure as president of Stony Brook, she has excelled as a fundraiser for the school, securing a $500 million unrestricted endowment donation from the Simons Foundation, a historically large gift, especially for a public university.

Some faculty members at UT Austin and Stony Brook have criticized McInnis’s leadership as overly authoritative and dismissive of faculty concerns. At Stony Brook, critics have called into question her record on campus free speech. In late March, a group of students and faculty members participated in a demonstration in response to the arrests of nine Stony Brook students the day before during a pro-Palestine protest at the University’s Administration Building. In the following weeks, over 600 Stony Brook faculty members and students signed an open letter calling for McInnis to revise the school’s free speech policies and increase administrative transparency.

More recently, Stony Brook’s faculty senate voted to demand that all charges be dropped against 29 individuals — including students and faculty — arrested for their participation in a pro-Palestinian encampment on May 2, and to investigate Enterprise Risk Management – a campus police operation formed by McInnis.

When first contacted by the News about these criticisms in April, McInnis declined to comment. However, in an interview with the News Wednesday morning, she said that such criticism comes with leadership positions.

“Being in a leadership position usually means you can’t please everybody all the time,” McInnis said. “There’s always going to be a multiplicity of opinions about how a variety of different issues should be addressed.”

Although McInnis has been a trustee since 2022, her initial appointment to the board was controversial among University alumni and graduate students. McInnis lost the 2020 alumni fellows election yet was appointed to the Corporation as a successor trustee two years later. At the Corporation, she serves on the institutional policies, School of Medicine, finance and educational policy committees, the latter of which she is the chair of.

McInnis told the News that she gained insights about university governance as both the Corporation trustee and president of Stony Brook. 

“One of the great things about being a trustee is the breadth of vision you get in that position to the governance aspects of an institution — you really understand an institution’s strengths and its strategies for moving forward. That is very different from actually being in a leadership role,” McInnis said. “My experience at Stony Brook has given me extraordinary insights into many of the management issues that as president you face at large, complex institutions.”

The Presidential Search Committee consisted of eight Corporation members — not including McInnis — and four faculty members, as well as a 12-member Student Advisory Council that gathered student input on the process. 

Salovey will step down on June 30, taking a sabbatical before returning to the faculty where he is currently the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology.

Read the News’ past coverage of the presidential selection process here.

Ben Raab, Yurii Stasiuk and Ariela Lopez contributed reporting.

Benjamin Hernandez covers Woodbridge Hall, the President's Office. He previously reported on international affairs at Yale. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, he is a sophomore in Trumbull College majoring in Global Affairs.
Tristan Hernandez is the 147th Editor in Chief and President of the Yale Daily News. He previously served as a copy editor and covered student policy & affairs and student life for the University desk. Originally from Austin, Texas, he is a junior in Pierson College majoring in political science.