New York University’s Board of Trustees announced Wednesday that it has appointed Linda G. Mills to be its next president.
Mills, who will be the first female president when she assumes the position July 1, currently serves as NYU’s Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice Provost for Global Programs and University Life, a position she has had held for more than a decade. She is also a professor of social work, public policy, and law.
She said that the new role represented an opportunity to learn more about NYU– which she has been serving for the past two decades—but with a fresh perspective.
“One of the wonderful things about NYU is that, even after dedicating 24 years of my life to this extraordinary university, there is always more to discover,” Mills said. “I am eager to meet so many more of NYU’s remarkable people; I intend to step into this new role with fresh eyes, excited to see the university and all its possibilities through their unique perspectives.”
Mills also serves as the executive director of NYU’s Center on Violence and Recovery and the co-founder of NYU’s Of Many Institute for Multi-faith Leadership and NYU’s Production Lab. As NYU’s 17th president, Mills said she plans on zoning in areas such as research, affordability, diversity, and inclusion.
“The university has been on this remarkable academic trajectory, so our focus is on how do we continue on that path that NYU has been on over these many years,” Mills said. “How do we build the best possible university in the world? That includes research, affordability, diversity, and inclusion.”
Before joining the NYU community, Mills was as a lecturer in the School of Law and assistant professor in the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research. Mills arrived to NYU in 1999 as an associate professor of social work and then stepped into Vice Provost and then Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and University Life. Since 2012, Mills has continued to serve as Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice Provost for Global Programs and University Life.
“Linda has been deeply involved in many of NYU’s most important undertakings over the past decade,” said William Berkley, the Chair of the Board of Trustees. “She brings a data-driven approach to analysis and decision-making, yet never loses sight of the very human elements at the heart of a university — the passion of scholars for their field, the interaction between faculty member and student, the ambitions and welfare of students in and out of the classroom, and the trust that students’ families place in us.”
Mills received her PhD in Health Policy in 1994 from Brandeis University and her Master’s of Social Work from San Francisco State University in 1986. She became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 1990. Mills was admitted to the California Bar in 1983 after earning her her JD the same year from the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco. Her areas of expertise include student mental health, domestic abuse, trauma and recovery, multi-faith programming, as well as film advocacy, according to the university.
Mills directed the film The Rest of Us, a drama about mental health crises on a college campus, which Mills said was inspired by her work with NYU students. Said Mills in a 2021 interview with LRM Online: “It became obvious to me that in our representations related to mental health, that oftentimes we neglected certain at-risk populations, students of color, for example.” Her first film, Auf Wiedersehen, ‘Til We Meet Again, portrayed her family’s return to Vienna after her mother’s escape from the Holocaust.
Mills was chosen by a search committee from more than 100 candidates over a six-month search. She will be taking over from current NYU President Andrew Hamilton, who has served as NYU’s president since 2016. Hamilton called the Board of Trustees’ decision a “wise and excellent choice” and pointed to Mills’ involvement in strategic decision-making for NYU “bringing to our deliberations not just savvy but also a keen and passionate understanding of our students’ welfare and experience.”
Hamilton was credited for leading NYU through the pandemic’s unpredictable stretches and its harsh impacts on schools and universities. Berkley pointed to Hamilton’s “uncommon steadiness” and “notable successes” in areas like the university’s research enterprise, affordability, financial aid, and student success.
Mills said she is eager to receive feedback from students and faculty.
“On the first day, really what I’m looking to do is to listen and to establish trust and dialogue and hear what’s on other people’s minds,” Mills said. “For a long time, I have been in the position where I’ve been running various units at the university. From my point of view, it’s time to listen.”