First Female President of American University is The Granddaughter of Greek Immigrants

According to a press release by the American University, Greek-American Sylvia Mathews Burwell, is the granddaughter of Greek immigrants. Burwell was most recently the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under former President Barack Obama and was named the 15th President of American University in Washington, D.C.

She succeeds Neil Kerwin as president and will assume her responsibilities on June 1, 2017.

Burwell, the first woman to hold the highest leadership position at AU, emerged as the top candidate in a very competitive national search.

“Secretary Burwell’s success at HHS reflects three key abilities that will make her an excellent president for our university. She fosters research and scholarship, and turns them into action. She embraces and leverages the strengths of a large, diverse institution to advance its goals, and she is able to convey complex ideas to a wide range of audiences, from members of Congress to the public, in pushing for evidence-based actions and outcomes,” said Kiho Kim, Professor of environmental science at AU and a member of the Presidential Search Committee.

“My family and I are honored and excited to become a part of this vibrant AU community,” Burwell said. “American University’s distinctive mix of academic strengths, its influential scholars, engaged students, successful alumni and extraordinary location are great assets.”

Burwell comes to AU after having served as the 22nd Secretary of HHS, a role she held from 2014 through the end of President Obama’s second term. Prior to that Cabinet appointment, Burwell was Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), also a Cabinet position.


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