Safa Zaki Will Be the First Women to Lead Bowdoin College Since Its Founding in 1794

Safa Zaki was been chosen to be the sixteenth president of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. When she takes office on July 1, she will be the first woman to lead the highly selective college since its founding in 1794.

Bowdoin College enrolls nearly 2,000 students, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education. Until 1971, Bowdoin admitted only men. Today, women make up 51 percent of the student body.

Currently, Dr. Zaki is dean of the faculty and the John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy Professor of Psychology at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She joined the faculty at Williams in 2002 as an assistant professor of psychology and was promoted to associate professor in 2005 and to full professor in 2010. Dr. Zaki is a cognitive scientist whose research focuses on how people divide the world into categories.

“I am particularly inspired by Bowdoin’s commitment to the common good, something I sensed in all my conversations throughout the search process and in my time on campus,” Dr. Zaki said. “I am so looking forward to joining the Bowdoin community, and to meeting and learning from everyone in it. I am honored, grateful, and excited to have been selected for this amazing leadership position, and to be the beneficiary of those who have made Bowdoin one of the world’s most distinguished liberal arts colleges.”

A native of Egypt, Dr. Zaki earned her undergraduate degree in psychology at the American University in Cairo. She then traveled to the United States in 1990 to pursue graduate education at Arizona State University, where she earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in psychology.

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