Melissa Gilliam Will Be the First African American President of Boston University

Melissa L. Gilliam, the executive vice president and provost at Ohio State University and a distinguished educator, scholar, research scientist, and physician, will be Boston University’s eleventh president. When she takes office on July 1, she will be the first African American to lead the university.

Boston University enrolls more than 18,000 undergraduate students and 18,000 graduate students, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up 5 percent of the undergraduate student body.

“I’m really excited about how engaged Boston University is in the city and how engagement has been a hallmark of BU,” Dr. Gilliam said. “I’m looking forward to hearing from people, learning and listening. I lead by listening, collaborating, and empowering other people. That is the best way to run big organizations, to get everyone excited and engaged, and doing more than they think they’re capable of doing. This philosophy is core to shared governance, an essential component of a thriving university.”

Dr. Gilliam has been provost at Ohio State University since July 2021. Earlier, she was vice provost, the Ellen H. Block Distinguished Service Professor of Health Justice, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics at the University of Chicago. In the past, she has also served as dean of diversity and inclusion for the Biological Sciences Division at University of Chicago Medicine.

Dr. Gilliam holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Yale University. She earned a master’s degree in philosophy and politics at the University of Oxford in England and a medical doctorate at Harvard University. She also holds a master of public health degree from the University of Illinois Chicago.

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