Board of Trustees Elects Sian Beilock Dartmouth’s 19th President

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A leading cognitive scientist, Beilock is the first woman to be elected president.

Sian Leah Beilock
Sian Leah Beilock is president of Barnard College and previously served as executive vice provost of the University of Chicago. (Photo by Tim Ryan Smith/Avenue 5 Films) 

 The Dartmouth Board of Trustees has elected Sian Leah Beilock; as the institution’s 19th president. A  leading  cognitive scientist and  the current president of Barnard College, Beilock, 46, will assume office on July 1, 2023.

She is the first woman elected to the position in Dartmouth’s more than 250-year history and will succeed Philip J. Hanlon ’77, who will step down at the end of  the coming  academic  year  after a decade in the role.

“Sian is a leader with the aspirational vision to build our research enterprise, further our tradition of excellence in undergraduate education, and expand our global impact; she embraces the teacher-scholar model and brings experience from a world-class R1 institution as well as a distinctive liberal arts college,” said Elizabeth Cahill Lempres ’83, Thayer ’84chair of the board of trustees. “Sian’s election in this, our 50th year of coeducation at Dartmouth, was enthusiastic and unanimous. We are thrilled to welcome her to the Dartmouth family.”

“It is an immense honor to join Dartmouth, one of the nation’s most storied institutions of higher learning, and I am even more deeply moved by what lies ahead,” Beilock said. “I am grateful to the board of trustees for their confidence and to all those who have welcomed me so warmly during the search process and shared their profound dedication to the institution. It is clear to me that Dartmouth’s tight-knit learning community, together with world-class research and scholarship, is an enormously powerful vehicle for the creation of outstanding ideas with real impact.”

At Barnard, Beilock has enhanced STEM research and teaching programs to parallel the institution’s renown in the arts and humanities; implemented a campus-wide health and wellness initiative; and increased diversity among students, faculty, and staff. Almost half of Barnard students identify as women of color. Before joining Barnard,  Beilock  served as executive vice provost of the University of Chicago, where she was the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology and an officer of the university.

Cheryl Glicker Milstein, chair of Barnard’s board of trustees, noted that during Beilock’s time as president, the college has made significant advances in academic excellence, student support, diversity, prospective student interest, fundraising, and more. “That growth has been especially remarkable under Sian’s leadership, advancing our core mission and values through a historically challenging time,” Milstein wrote in a message to the Barnard community.

Beilock’s election by the board of trustees follows a rigorous and inclusive global search by an 18-member committee drawn from Dartmouth faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees after President Hanlon announced in January that he would step down on June 30, 2023.

“The Presidential Search Committee was proud to recommend Sian to the board as the next leader of Dartmouth,” said co-chair Susan Huang ’84. “The entire committee wholeheartedly agreed that she has all the strengths and experience needed to create an even more inclusive, vibrant student experience, and embed an innovative, agile mindset across Dartmouth.”

Co-chair Christopher Lord  ’86 added: “Sian stood out among a diverse, deep, and talented field of candidates. We were fortunate to be guided in our work by the input we received from the many members of the Dartmouth community who took part in listening sessions, submitted surveys, and nominated individuals.”

Beilock is one of the world’s leading experts on the brain science behind “choking under pressure” and the brain and body factors influencing all types of performance: from test taking, to public speaking, to athletics. A particular focus of her work has been developing and implementing research-driven strategies to encourage women and girls in the fields of math and science. She has authored two critically acclaimed books published in more than a dozen languages as well as some 120 peer-reviewed publications in outlets such as Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her 2017 TED talk has been viewed more than 2.5 million times.

Beilock is a recipient, among other honors, of  the National Academy of Sciences Troland Research Award for her pioneering work on anxiety and performance in high-stress situations and a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Psychological Association and a member of the National Academy of Kinesiology and the Council on Foreign Relations. She earned her bachelor’s degree in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego, and doctorates of philosophy in both kinesiology and psychology from Michigan State University.

Watch a video interview with President-elect Beilock.

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