A woman wearing blue speaks at a podium in front of a blue background with the words Columbia Mailman School of Public Health visible

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik Visits Mailman

October 27, 2023

Nemat (Minouche) Shafik, the twentieth president of Columbia University, affirmed the key role of public health scholarship and education during a recent visit to Columbia Mailman School, saying, “The work you do here could not be more important.”

She delivered her remarks to Dean Linda P. Fried, members of the School’s Board of Advisors, and a small group of senior faculty and School leadership, at an October 26 reception in Riverview Lounge.

The COVID-19 pandemic, “brought home to everyone how central public health is for all our lives,” said President Shafik, adding, “I want to signal how grateful I am for the research that is being done here and the incredible education that is being provided.”

The Columbia University President, a distinguished economist, is no stranger to public health science. A chapter in her 2021 book, What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract, is dedicated to health. While writing the chapter, she “enjoyed nerding out on DALYs and rates of return to different public health interventions and how effective they were in terms of improving human welfare.”

She is continually impressed by Columbia Mailman alumni. “Everywhere I go, there are Mailman alumni who are incredibly proud of what they learned here,” she said. “Most of them are in the field of public health after they graduate. I think that is a very good sign. They don’t go off and do other things. They stay committed.”

For more than three decades, President Shafik has served in senior leadership roles across a range of prominent international and academic institutions. She was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and grew up in the United States. She earned a Master of Science in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), followed by a Doctor of Philosophy in economics from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. She has held leadership roles at prominent institutions, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Bank of England. Most recently, she served as president of LSE. Her inauguration and investiture as Columbia University President took place on October 4.

Dean Fried welcomed President Shafik, saying, “We’re thrilled you’re here and thrilled for who you are. … Welcome to your school of public health.”