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Confirmed: N.Y.U. selects Linda G. Mills as its 17th president

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The Village Sun got the scoop!

On Tuesday afternoon, the Sun reported a credible tip that Linda G. Mills was possibly poised to be appointed New York University’s new president — as the first woman ever to hold the post at the nation’s largest private university.

Robert Reiss, the newspaper’s source, had spotted a “presentational video” about Mills being filmed Monday next door to Greenwich House’s Senior Center on the Square during which an N.Y.U. Abu Dhabi dean enthused, “Mills is a good president of N.Y.U.”

Less than 24 hours after the Sun’s report, on Wednesday morning the university announced that it’s true, Mills will be N.Y.U.s’ 17th president. She is currently being referred to as “president designate,” however, since she’s not officially slated to assume the leadership position until this summer.

One local reader, an N.Y.U. faculty member, speculated that The Village Sun’s article may have compelled the university to “push up” the timing of the announcement.

The news was broken in a post on the university’s Web site by William Berkley, chairperson of the N.Y.U. board of trustees and of the presidential search committee, and Evan Chesler, the trustees chairperson designate and search committee vice chairperson.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees,” the post stated, “we are very happy to announce that the extensive search conducted by the Presidential Search Committee has led to the selection of Linda G. Mills — N.Y.U.’s Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice Provost for Global Programs and University Life; a chaired professor and researcher; an attorney, licensed clinical social worker, filmmaker, parent of an N.Y.U. graduate and longtime member of the University’s senior leadership team — as the 17th president of New York University. She will take on her duties as president on July 1, 2023.

“The search to recruit our next president drew an extraordinary group of applicants,” they said. “It is a tribute to N.Y.U.’s stature, reputation and upward academic trajectory that the position attracted so many outstandingly qualified and eager candidates to be reviewed by the Committee.”

The search committee’s goals were “to recruit a president who will shape a bold vision for the University, cultivate and deepen academic excellence, build on N.Y.U.’s institutional momentum, create a signature student experience, enhance diversity and improve fundraising.”

In an accompanying video, Berkley notes that Mills has a law degree but also, as a filmmaker, “has an artistic side.” She “does things because she sees opportunities,” and is a consummate “multitasker,” which fits the M.O. of such a large research university, he says.

Speaking in the video, incoming president Mills says that today’s world is facing more pressing challenges than ever, but that N.Y.U. is ready, and uniquely well positioned, to confront them.

“Higher education is under attack,” she says. “Inequality continues to plague our society, whether that’s racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Asian violence or the L.G.B.T.Q. community coming under attack. The arts and humanities are misunderstood despite their essential central role in defining our past and building our future. Mental health concerns are pervasive — every community is touched by them. N.Y.U. has a role to play in each and every one of these issues.”

Also in the video, she notes that her family’s painful history of the loss of her great-grandmother in the Holocaust motivated her early on to seek justice, leading her to attend law school.

Some of Mills’s remarks in the video were filmed in the soundproofed, light-filled orchestra room of the new Paulson Center building on Mercer Street. To the community’s chagrin, the sprawling edifice does not contain space for a local supermarket, despite N.Y.U.’s pledge more than a decade to do so.

Mills first came to N.Y.U. as an associate professor of social work in 1999, and in 2001 was promoted to full professor. Prior to coming to N.Y.U., from 1994 to 1998 she was at UCLA, where she was a lecturer in the School of Law and an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy and Social Research, receiving early tenure.

Mills’s main areas of scholarly focus are trauma, bias and domestic violence. According to the university’s announcement, her research funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice has “reshaped the field of treatment in domestic violence, and her restorative justice-based programs are currently being adopted in several jurisdictions across the U.S.”

Mills has been N.Y.U.’s vice chancellor and senior vice provost for global programs and university life since 2012. In 2002, she was named vice provost — and in 2006 senior vice provost — for undergraduate education and university life.

The president designate received her Ph.D. in health policy in 1994 from Brandeis University, where she was a Pew Scholar; her master’s degree in social work from San Francisco State University in 1986; her law degree from the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco in 1983; and her bachelor of arts in history and social thought from the University of California, Irvine in 1979. She was admitted to the California Bar in 1983 and first became a licensed clinical social worker in 1990.

Her husband, Peter Goodrich, is a professor of law at Cardozo School of Law and a visiting professor of law in the Division of Social Science at N.Y.U. Abu Dhabi. They have a son who is a 2019 graduate of N.Y.U.’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

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