Shirley M. Tilghman, who has led Princeton University since 2001, will step down at the end of this academic year, the university has announced. Ms. Tilghman, who will remain on the faculty, revealed her decision this weekend at the Princeton board’s September meeting, and in a letter to the university community on Saturday. The announcement comes just a few weeks after Richard C. Levin, the Ivy League’s longest-serving president, announced his resignation. Ms. Tilghman, the second-longest-serving president, is a molecular biologist and a champion of women in the sciences.
Ms. Tilghman broke ground as the university’s first female president and first president with a science background after generations of economists and humanists. She was a surprise choice because she had never held a senior administrative position—she came directly from the faculty. She was also a divorced single mother with teenage children, making her an even more unusual selection to lead the Ivy League institution.
During her tenure she restored Early Admissions, which critics say favor wealthy students; built up the university’s African-American studies program; and championed spending more for female faculty members. And she navigated the university through the recession and also recently completed a successful fund-raising campaign, bringing in nearly $2-billion to an institution that has one of the largest per-student endowments in the country.
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