Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: March 10, 2023

Next Bowdoin College president brings global perspective, psychology background

Person Photo / Bradley Wakoff Safa Zaki will take the reins as president of Bowdoin College on July 1.

Safa Zaki, a psychology professor and dean of faculty at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., has been named the 16th president of Bowdoin College. She will assume the role on July 1, becoming the first woman to lead the Brunswick liberal arts college since it was founded in 1794.

Bringing a global perspective to the job, the Egyptian-born educator will succeed Clayton Rose, who announced plans to step down last April following an eight-year tenure marked by an increase in campus building projects, fundraising and student applications. 

The appointment follows a comprehensive national search and the unanimous recommendation of a 19-person search committee with representatives from the board, faculty and staff, students and alumni. 

“In Safa Zaki, Bowdoin has found a distinguished scholar and leader with a global perspective who believes deeply in the transformative power of a liberal arts education,” said Scott Perper, a Bowdoin alumnus and search committee member who chairs the school's board.

“Her exceptional career in the academy, her appreciation for the humanities as well as science and technology, and her commitment to the imperatives of diversity, equity and inclusion, coupled with an authentic and engaging approach to leadership and team-building, make Safa the right choice for Bowdoin. She clearly wants to make a difference in this world, and we couldn’t be more pleased or more excited to welcome Safa to Brunswick.”

Currently dean of the faculty and the John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy Professor of Psychology at Williams College, Zaki said she is "particularly inspired by Bowdoin’s commitment to the common good, something I sensed in all my conversations throughout the search process and in my time on campus.”

Known as an advocate for both faculty and staff, Zaki is responsible for the curriculum at Williams and for the recruitment, appointment and promotion of faculty.

She oversees academic departments and programs, including their budgets and personnel, graduate programs; athletics; the grants office; the Rice Center for Teaching; the Center for Global Languages, Literatures & Cultures; the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences; the Center for Environmental Studies; the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford University; and the Williams-Mystic Program.

Born in Egypt, Zaki grew up in a number of countries, including Tanzania, Syria, Jordan, Trinidad and Tobago. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology at the American University in Cairo and traveled to the United States in 1990 to pursue graduate education at Arizona State University, where she earned her master’s degree and doctorate, also in psychology.

Zaki joined the faculty at Williams in 2002 as an assistant professor of psychology, after serving previously as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. She was promoted to associate professor at Williams in 2005 and to full professor in 2010. She twice chaired the Williams Program in Cognitive Science and was named Class of 1924 Professor of Psychology in 2021. She was named to the John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy Professorship in 2022.

“The single most important thing I can tell the Bowdoin community about Safa Zaki is that she will be deeply missed by Williams students, faculty and staff alike,” said Williams College President Maud Mandel. 

"Whether she’s mentoring thesis students or building career support for junior and mid-career faculty, advising departments on budget strategy, or overseeing faculty searches, Safa's hallmark is her devotion to research and education, and the people at the heart of those endeavors," Mandel added.

Zaki is married to Huff Templeton, who will be joining her in Brunswick. His work centers on inclusive economic development and entrepreneurship. The couple has two recent college graduates — Adly, from Williams College in 2020, and Sabrina, from Middlebury College in Vermont in 2022.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF