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Wellesley Inaugurates Its First Black President

Wellesley College elected its first-ever African-American president on Friday, The Boston Globe reports.

Before coming to Wellesley, Dr. Paula Johnson founded and served as the executive director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

According to Wellesley’s website, Dr. Johnson’s leadership recently inspired the creation of an endowed Professorship in Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School named in honor of her mother.

It could not be a more exciting time for Wellesley, and the opportunity to help guide Wellesley into the future, building on its mission, vision, and resolve, is one that I find deeply inspiring,” Dr. Johnson said in a statement. “I am honored and humbled to be asked to serve as Wellesley’s president, and I view this presidency as the capstone of my career, which has been devoted to the advancement of women through education and faculty development, and by working to improve their health and well-being.”

Dr. Johnson’s research has impacted women across the country and beyond through its influence on the implementation of health care reform.

“Paula Johnson is the perfect person to steer Wellesley into the future,” said Laura Daignault Gates, chair of the Wellesley College Board of Trustees. “As the College approaches its 150th year, we are steadfast in our mission to provide an excellent liberal arts education for women, because it is clear that the liberal arts and the concept of a women’s college are as important and as valid today as they have been at any time in the past.”

The Brooklyn native attended Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges. She received her MD and MPH degrees from Harvard and trained in internal and cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She currently resides in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband, their two children and Havanese puppy.