New York University announced Wednesday that its new president would be Linda G. Mills, a professor and administrator at the university for more than 20 years.
The selection of Dr. Mills, the first woman to head the institution, based in Manhattan and one of the country’s largest private universities, follows the recent appointments of women to lead other top schools, like Columbia, Harvard, M.I.T., George Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania.
She will succeed Andrew Hamilton, who has said he will step down in June after eight years as president.
Dr. Mills, who is now a vice chancellor and senior vice provost at the university, is known in the academic world primarily for her scholarship in social work, notably research in the field of domestic partner abuse and treatment.
Her career has been remarkably broad, including a large portfolio at N.Y.U., where she seems to oversee a vast sphere of influence, with an array of leadership titles and roles.
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She serves as executive director of the university’s Center on Violence and Recovery, which conducts research on abuse and trauma. She is senior vice provost for the university’s study-abroad and university life programs. She is associate vice chancellor for admissions and financial support for the university’s branch in Abu Dhabi.
Dr. Mills is the director of N.Y.U.’s Production Lab, which fosters student filmmaking, and she has directed and produced a number of documentary films herself, including “Of Many,” a collaboration with Chelsea Clinton documenting the friendship between N.Y.U.’s chaplains, Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna. Another film, “Auf Wiedersehen,” explored her mother’s forced exile from Europe during the Holocaust as a source of intergenerational trauma. The film’s cast includes her husband, Peter Goodrich, a professor at Cardozo School of Law, as well as the couple’s son, a 2019 N.Y.U. graduate.
In a video posted to N.Y.U.’s Facebook page, William R. Berkley, the chair of N.Y.U.’s board of trustees as well as the committee that selected Dr. Mills, said her career embodied a “real demonstration of the ability to multitask.”
Dr. Mills’s academic credentials include a Ph.D. from Brandeis and three other degrees, one of them in law, from public universities in California — U.C. Irvine, U.C. Hastings School of Law and San Francisco State.
Before joining N.Y.U. in 1999, she was a professor at U.C.L.A.
The selection of Dr. Mills, 65, was announced Wednesday morning in a news release, which said she was chosen from among 100 candidates for the post.
“I love N.Y.U.,” Dr. Mills was quoted as saying in the release. “I am filled with enthusiasm, emotion, and, most of all, gratitude.” She said she wanted to step into the role with “fresh eyes,” but did not lay out any specific plans for changes at the university.
She was scheduled to meet separately on Wednesday with groups of students, faculty and administrators.
Dr. Hamilton, who is remaining at N.Y.U. as a professor, was credited with slowing the growth of the university’s tuition charges, and with increasing financial aid packages for students. Even so, attending N.Y.U. remains a financial struggle for many students.
Evan Chesler, a Manhattan lawyer who served on the presidential search committee, said Dr. Mills was chosen partly because the committee believed she could be a prolific fund-raiser, though that has not previously been one of her responsibilities.
“We’re very tuition-dependent, at a time when many, many American families can’t afford tuition for students,” said Mr. Chesler, a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He said that the university’s endowment, relative to the number of students it enrolls, is “a fraction of what our peer schools have.”
The university’s total published costs for each undergraduate add up to nearly $90,000 a year, including tuition, housing, food and other expenses. About half of its students receive some type of financial aid toward those costs.
Among the challenges Dr. Mills must navigate as president will be the sometimes fraught relationship between its ever-expanding Manhattan campus and its neighbors in New York, as well as the geopolitical tensions and other issues affecting its operations in Abu Dhabi, Tel Aviv and Shanghai.