Safa Zaki will be the first woman to lead Bowdoin College in the liberal arts institution's 229-year history.
Bowdoin College announced Thursday that Safa Zaki is its new president-elect. Credit: Courtesy of Bradley Wakoff / Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College in Brunswick has named its first female president.

Safa Zaki, the dean of faculty and the John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy Professor of Psychology at Williams College in Massachusetts, was unanimously elected president by the Bowdoin College board of trustees, Chair Scott Perper announced Thursday morning.

Zaki will be the 16th president and the first woman to lead the premiere liberal arts institution in its 229-year history. She will succeed Clayton Rose, who announced last April he was resigning as the college’s president on June 30, 2023.

“Safa embodies all of the important qualities we aspired to find in our next president. A distinguished scholar and a proven leader with a global perspective, she believes deeply in the transformative powers of a liberal arts education,” Perper said.

Zaki was born in Egypt, and over the years, she has lived in Tanzania, Syria, Jordan, and Trinidad and Tobago.

She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology at the American University in Cairo and earned her master’s degree and doctorate in psychology at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Zaki joined Williams College in 2002 as an associate professor of psychology. As a psychologist and cognitive scientist, her research has explored how people divide the world into categories.

“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,” Zaki said.

Williams College President Maud Mandel said that Zaki will be “deeply missed” at the Massachusetts campus.