Tuskegee University names first female president in school’s 136-year history

Tuskegee University names first female president in school’s 136-year history
Tuskegee University has named Dr. Lily D. McNair, currently provost at Wagner College, as its eighth president. (contributed)

Tuskegee University’s board of trustees has voted unanimously to name Dr. Lily D. McNair as its next president. McNair becomes the first female president in the university’s 136-year history.

Dr. Lily D. McNair on July 1 will take the Tuskegee University president’s job first held by Booker T. Washington, pictured in the photo behind McNair. (contributed)

McNair currently serves as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Wagner College in New York City. She will begin work at Tuskegee on July 1.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected to serve as the eighth president of Tuskegee University,” McNair said. “The historic contributions of the university’s students, faculty and alumni are well-known and valued throughout the nation. I very much look forward to building on the legacy of my predecessors so that Tuskegee University will ascend to even greater heights in the years to come.”

Since 2011, McNair has served as the second-ranking executive of Wagner College – a private college of 2,200 students on New York City’s Staten Island. A clinical psychologist by training, McNair’s higher education career includes other academic, research and executive appointments at Spelman College, the University of Georgia, the State University of New York at New Paltz, and Vassar College.

“When we launched our presidential search last October, our goal was to identify someone who could champion both Tuskegee’s historic legacy and her place in the future of higher education,” said John E. Page, chair of Tuskegee’s board of trustees. “Our board of trustees is confident that Dr. McNair brings to Tuskegee the precise skill set required to ensure we continue thriving as one of the nation’s leading HBCUs.”

A native of New Jersey, McNair holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Princeton University, and master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Since Tuskegee University’s founding in 1881, the university has been under the leadership of seven presidents – the first of which was Booker T. Washington, who led the institution from 1881 to 1915.

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