University of Minnesota appoints first woman president in its 167-year history

Joan T.A. Gabel becomes the 17th U of M president.
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The University of Minnesota has appointed the first female president in its 167-year history.

Joan T.A. Gabel, the chief academic officer and provost at the University of South Carolina, will take over the position soon-to-be-vacated by current President Eric Kaler, with July 1, 2019, her first day in office.

In a statement from the U's Board of Regents, chair David McMillan said Gabel "stood out from a highly competitive pool of candidates that advanced through a thorough and thoughtful search process."

"Her qualifications, combined with her warmth, energy and her genuine engagement with students, faculty, staff and others are proof that she will make an outstanding President,” he added.

The 50-year-old Gabel was present for the vote that officially gave her the position at a special meeting of the board on Tuesday morning.

"I have known for a while now that the University of Minnesota is where my family and I want to be," she said. "But after traveling across this state, meeting so many people who love the University and seeing how our research, teaching and service have real impact here and beyond, I’m even more excited to join this community and I’m honored to be named the next President of the University of Minnesota."

The Star Tribune spoke to some of her colleagues in South Carolina, who described her as a "down-to-earth, approachable leader."

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Her tenure in South Carolina saw her face challenges over rising costs, protest over student and faculty diversity, not to mention enduring two destructive hurricanes, the newspaper notes.

She was formerly a business law attorney, the editor in chief of the American Business Law Journal, and the dean of the University of Missouri's Trulaske College of Business.

She's also held roles at Florida State University and Georgia State University.

The Board of Regents approved a five-year contract for Gabel.

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