The American Museum of Natural History in New York Names its First Black President

Sean Decatur, president of Kenyon College in Ohio, will be the next president of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. When he takes office on April 3, he will be the first African American to hold the position. Dr. Decatur will succeed Ellen Futter, who is the first woman to be the museum’s president, and has led the museum for the past 30 years.

The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869. In 2006, the museum established the Richard Gilder Graduate School which includes a Ph.D. granting program in comparative biology within the museum. It also offers a master’s degree in teaching program.

“I feel as if everything I’ve done in life has led up to the tremendous privilege, responsibility, and opportunity of heading the American Museum of Natural History,” Dr. Decatur said. “This great institution, which already has achieved so much, is ready to take on the next crucial challenges in everything from scientific research to supporting public education, and to expanding access. I look forward eagerly to working with the board, the outstanding staff, and the people of New York in realizing the unparalleled promise of this Museum.”

Dr. Decatur has led Kenyon College since 2013. Before becoming president of Kenyon College, he was a professor of chemistry and biochemistry and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College in Ohio. Earlier, Dr. Decatur was an assistant and associate professor of chemistry at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Dr. Decatur earned his bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He holds a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from Stanford University.

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