George Washington University names 1st woman to serve as president

The George Washington University has named its 19th president to lead the D.C. school.

Ellen Granberg, who has a doctorate in sociology from Vanderbilt University, was chosen by the university’s board of trustees, the school said in a news release Wednesday. She will become the first woman to serve as GW’s president when she takes office in July, overseeing the largest university in D.C., with 26,000 students and a $2.3 billion endowment.

In a statement, Granberg said it was a “great honor” to be named president, touting the “incredible community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends” as what drew her to the school.

She succeeds interim President Mark S. Wrighton, who began serving in January 2022 while the university searched for its next leader. Thomas LeBlanc, who previously held the role for over four years, retired in December 2021.



Ellen Granberg has named GWU’s next president. (Courtesy GWU)

Currently, Granberg is provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She also held a leadership position at Clemson University.

“I am very impressed by Dr. Granberg’s collaborative academic leadership,” Wrighton said, adding that he is looking forward to assisting in a smooth transition.

Student Association President Christian Zidouemba said he believes Granberg will be a “proponent of inclusion and someone who listens, meets students where they are and addresses issues that are important to us.”

Granberg and her wife, Sonya Rankin, plan to take up residence on the Foggy Bottom campus in the F Street House.

The Board of Trustees’ presidential search committee included trustees, faculty, staff, alumni and students.

WTOP’s Jeff Clabaugh contributed to this story. 

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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