By Neil Doyle
BLOOMINGTON – Illinois Wesleyan University has named its 20th president and the first woman to hold the job in the school’s history.
Georgia Nugent, who has served as IWU’s interim president since August, was named to the position Thursday during a ceremony on campus.
Nugent said she came to the university anticipating to serve in the interim role for a year but plans changed.
“The more time I spent at IWU the more I became engaged with the university and its people,” said Nugent.
She previously served as president at Kenyon College in Ohio for 10 years, then as interim president at the College of Wooster. At both of those locations Nugent was first woman president.
“That number hasn’t changed much in 25 years, so when I’ve had the opportunity to do that I’m just happy to see what we can do at the institution, but also for what it says to younger women and so forth,” Nugent said.
Nugent earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a doctorate from Cornell University.
The presidential search committee sought to hire a woman and Nugent was the right candidate, according to IWU Board of Trustees Chair Tim Szerlong.
“It was certainly a factor in our priorities when we began our search. Clearly we had a strong bias for finding a woman or diverse candidate. Time for that in today’s world as we all know, and as Georgia referenced, the world has moved slowly in that regard,” said Szerlong.
Szerlong said the board and Nugent will continue to work on IWU’s strategic planning process to advance the university.
Nugent replaces Eric Jensen who retired at the end of May.
Neil Doyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org