Barnard College Names Florida Law Dean as New President

Barnard College of Columbia University, one of the most prominent women’s colleges in the United States, announced on Thursday that it had chosen Laura A. Rosenbury, the dean of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, to serve as its next president.

Ms. Rosenbury became the first woman to serve as dean of Levin College of Law, in Gainesville, Fla., in 2015. She also taught classes in feminist legal theory, employment discrimination and family law.

“As a scholar who has long studied the law’s role in the construction of gender, I am excited to be part of an institution that has a deep history of studying gender in all of it complexity,” said Ms. Rosenbury in an interview.

Ms. Rosenbury will be installed as president on July 1, 2023, when Sian Beilock steps down to join Dartmouth College as its first female president. Ms. Beilock has led Barnard since 2017.

Barnard was the first university in New York to offer degrees to women, and it has always had a woman president.

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Now, other top schools across New York City have followed its example: Women presidents were also recently selected to lead New York University, Fordham University, and Columbia, with which Barnard has been affiliated since its founding in 1889.

“Laura’s appointment is a culmination of a life and career dedicated to empowering women,” Cheryl Milstein, the chairwoman of Barnard’s board of trustees, said in a statement.

Ms. Rosenbury oversaw a period of growth at the University of Florida, raising more than $100 million in donations, hiring 39 new faculty members and increasing the number of applicants by roughly 200 percent, Barnard said.

She has served as a public university administrator and feminist scholar at a time when Florida has become the site of tense political battles over issues like abortion, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and how race and discrimination are taught in schools. The values that had guided her leadership in Gainesville would also guide her in Manhattan, she said.

“I have long been committed to pluralism and fostering communities where all points of view are discussed and fostered and nurtured,” she said. “That commitment to pluralism has served me well here at the University of Florida and I think it will also serve me well at Barnard.”

In an interview, she said: “Florida politics are much more nuanced than what is often portrayed in the media.”

“I have been able to continue to do my work while also moving the law school forward in really exciting ways with the support of the state,” she said. “The state has really invested in higher education in Florida including in the law school, and that is how we have been able to raise our national profile.”

Before serving as dean of the Levin College of Law, Ms. Rosenbury was a professor of law and vice dean at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. She also served as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School and University of Chicago Law School.

Before she entered academia, Ms. Rosenbury worked as an associate at Davis, Polk & Wardwell in New York City and clerked for Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and Judge Dennis Jacobs of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in women’s studies at Harvard-Radcliffe and her Juris Doctor at Harvard Law School.

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