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Ohio State Chooses Its 1st Female President

July 26, 2002|From Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State University trustees voted unanimously Thursday to hire the school's first female president, the latest in a string of appointments of women as college presidents across the country.

The trustees appointed Karen Holbrook, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Georgia, to run the nation's second-largest campus.

"It would be very hard to be any more excited than I am right now," Holbrook, 59, said as she was introduced by board Chairman James Patterson.

Holbrook will begin Oct. 1 with a salary of $325,000. She will succeed William Kirwan, who left the Ohio State job to become chancellor at the University of Maryland.

At least 20 other women have been selected since January to head U.S. community colleges, four-year schools and universities.

Women have steadily, if slowly, moved into academic management over the last 25 years, said Claire Van Ummersen, vice president of the Office of Women in Higher Education at the American Council on Education.

They made up 5% of college presidents in 1975--almost all at women's or religious schools. A survey last fall found women occupying about 22% of the top spots, Van Ummersen said.

Holbrook was selected from a pool of more than 100 candidates, said Lee Tashjian, Ohio State vice president for university relations.

Ohio State, the state's largest public university, enrolls about 55,000 students, including about 48,000 in Columbus and the rest on branch campuses. Only the University of Texas at Austin has a larger main campus.

Ohio State has a budget of about $2.5 billion, though lawmakers cut $28 million from the 2002 budget last fall.

Holbrook was a dean and anatomy professor at the University of Florida before going to Georgia in 1998. She is a cell biologist who specializes in embryonic development of human skin.

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