(Washington, D.C.) – Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a Greek-American whose grandparents came from Greece, is to be the first female president of American University for her term, which begins on June 1, 2017. Burwell has experience in an administrative role in education. From 2014 until the end of President Obama’s second term, she served as the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. Prior to that, she was the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. She is to be American University’s 15th President and of those, she is the only woman.
In a statement, American University announced, “On behalf of the American University Board of Trustees, we are pleased to introduce Sylvia Mathews Burwell as American University’s 15th president. Burwell will assume her responsibilities on June 1, 2017, when President Neil Kerwin steps down, after more than a decade of outstanding service in the role.”
The statement also went on to describe how her leadership experience is an asset to the position. The statement says, “An accomplished senior government official and global foundation executive, Burwell is a leader of immense character and vision, known for her rigor of thought and laser-like focus on mission. A Rhodes Scholar, she possesses an inherent intellectual curiosity that she has applied to push the boundaries of knowledge in order to address complex problems.”
She has said that she is honored to take on the role of the university’s first female president. She said, “My family and I are honored and excited to become a part of this vibrant AU community.” Burwell has also said that she is excited for the opportunity to serve. According to the statement released by the AU Board of Trustees, she said, “I welcome the opportunity to help AU expand its scholarly influence, enhance the student experience, and be a model for inclusion and innovation at a time when these ideals are vitally important.”
All four of Burwell’s grandparents were Greek immigrants. She married a lawyer, Stephen Burwell, in 2005 and the pair have two children.