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University of Rochester President Sarah Mangelsdorf

About President Mangelsdorf

Sarah C. Mangelsdorf became the University of Rochester’s 11th president on July 1, 2019.


President Sarah C. Mangelsdorf

University of Rochester President Sarah C. Mangelsdorf is an experienced academic known for her work on issues of academic quality, educational access, and diversity and inclusion at some of the nation’s leading public and private institutions.

A collaborative leader who seeks to learn and grow with the Rochester community, President Mangelsdorf has worked with staff and community leaders to elevate the University’s status as a great place to work. She has raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour, reorganized human relations, elevated HR oversight into the University’s senior leadership, and adeptly navigated the coronavirus pandemic.

Since arriving in July 2019, she has increased the University’s investment and growth in research and clinical enterprises, returned the University to its traditional university-wide commencement for the first time in 30 years, recognized Juneteenth as an official University holiday, and led the development of the University’s new strategic plan, entitled Boundless Possibility, to help define the University of Rochester as a global research university of the future.

In 2020, she was selected as a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was also recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota.

President Mangelsdorf has been co-chair of the American Association of Universities Advisory Board on Racial Equity in Higher Education since 2020 and serves on a select McKinsey & Company taskforce on the future of higher education.

Academic career

President Mangelsdorf is a professor of psychology who served as provost at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before coming to Rochester. Her responsibilities included oversight of all academic programs and budget planning for 12 schools and colleges, including Education, Business, Engineering, and Graduate Studies, as well as the Schools of Medicine and Public Health and of Nursing, which are affiliated with UW Health, the integrated health system of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

President Mangelsdorf also served as dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University before becoming provost at Wisconsin in 2014. She began her academic career at the University of Michigan and in 1991 moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she later was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Increased faculty diversity

At Wisconsin, President Mangelsdorf oversaw the administration of a pioneering effort to improve access to the state’s flagship university for low- and moderate-income families. Named for the university’s badger mascot, Bucky, and announced in February 2018, Bucky’s Tuition Promise pledges to cover four years of tuition and fees for incoming first-year students who are Wisconsin residents and whose families’ annual household adjusted gross income is $56,000 or less—roughly the state’s median family income.

She led the revival of the faculty cluster hiring initiative, an effort to hire new faculty members under a system designed to build interdisciplinary strengths, emphasize Wisconsin’s historical commitment as a public resource for research and service, create new curricular offerings, and service, and create new curricular offerings.

Also, at Wisconsin, she worked on a program to better diversify the institution’s faculty. Announced fall 2018, the Target of Opportunity Program (TOP) provides funding and other support for schools and departments to recruit outstanding faculty members among historically underrepresented groups. The program puts a particular emphasis on race and ethnicity, and gender in disciplines where women are underrepresented.

Bolstered financial aid

At Northwestern, she oversaw the largest and most comprehensive academic unit of the private, selective university’s 12 colleges. She began her tenure at the start of 2008’s Great Recession and is credited with leading a strategy that increased the number of endowed chairs and professorships, remodeled core facilities, and bolstered student financial aid at a time when other universities were experiencing cutbacks.

At Illinois, President Mangelsdorf was the first woman to serve as the Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She also was the first woman to head the Department of Psychology, one of the largest undergraduate and graduate programs at Illinois. Prior to that, she served as associate provost. She was recognized several times for herteaching at Illinois, including receiving the highest award for teaching in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Education and family

A Pennsylvania native, she graduated from Oberlin College in 1980 and earned her doctorate in child psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1988. She is a third-generation academic: her father, Paul C. Mangelsdorf Jr., was a professor of physics at Swarthmore College and her grandfather, Paul C. Mangelsdorf, was a professor of botany at Harvard University.

She and her husband Karl Rosengren—a tenured developmental psychologist in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology—have two adult daughters and a son-in-law. She and her family enjoy learning about Rochester and engaging with the city by biking, running, and exploring the region’s art, food, and music culture.


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