Wellesley’s first African-American president appointed

Wellesley College named Dr. Paula Johnson as its next president, making her the college’s first African-American to lead the school.

Johnson will replace Kim Bottomly, who announced last April that she would step down after nine years as president of the women’s university. Dr. Johnson will begin her role on July 1, 2016.

Johnson is a professor at Harvard Medical School and is chief of Women’s Health at the medical school and Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She has furthered research that explores how women respond differently than men to diseases and treatment. She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. She also is the recipient of numerous awards recognizing her groundbreaking achievements on behalf of women.

Dr. Johnson has spent her career and life improving the health and lives of women, says Charlotte Harris, a Wellesley senior, in a statement. Harris went on to say that Johnson understands the issues of inclusion, equity, and well-being that are important to Wellesley students.

Johnson, 56, said in a statement that she sees the role as a capstone to her career. She also said that she felt a special responsibility as the college’s first African-American leader and believes that student diversity is one of Wellesley’s strengths.

It’s great to see not only a women, but also an African-American woman appointed to lead a college. It’s fitting for Wellesley, as a woman’s university, to have an internationally renowned and innovative leader serve as its president.

Dr. Johnson attended Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, and she received her MD and MPH degrees from Harvard. She trained in internal and cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She’s a Brooklyn, New York native, and now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband, their son and daughter, and a puppy.

Wellesley College is a private, women’s, liberal-arts university in Massachusetts that serves 2,400 students. Johnson will be the college’s 14th president.

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