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  • Writer's picturePatricia Salkin

Former Business School Dean and Lawyer Joan T.A. Gabel is First Woman President of the University of

Updated: Apr 10, 2023



On July 1, 2019 Joan T.A. Gabel became the 17th President of the University of Minnesota and the first woman to hold that office in the 167 year history of the institution. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Gabel was the first female executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina. Before that she was the Dean of the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business – where she was also the first female dean. At Florida State University she was chair of the Department of Risk Management/Insurance, Rea Estate and Legal Studies Director, and at Georgia State she was the interim director of the Institute of International Business. Gabel was also a Fulbright Scholar.


Gabel went to college at the age of 16. earned a J.D. from the University of Georgia, after which she practiced law before joining the faculty at Georgia State University and Florida State University. Reflecting on her background, “ she has credited that legal education for sharpening her skills to think, solve problems, and communicate—skills that come in handy in any job but particularly in higher education administration.” She commented, ““My education and professional experience across the liberal arts, business, the law and in higher ed administration position me uniquely to listen carefully, meet challenges and identify opportunities to collaborate with students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, policymakers and others to make this great University even greater.” When asked whether she feels any additional pressure breaking the glass ceiling and being the first woman president, she responded, “There is pressure, but I don’t know that that’s a bad thing. Every university president feels pressure. I don’t know that there’s any immunity from pressure, just because you’re not a first. But I do feel a sense of responsibility that may be unique.”


Joan Gabel joins a growing number of lawyer business school deans who have been appointed to lead the campus.


4/10/2023 Update: Joan T.A. Gabel was appointed in April 2023 as the first woman to lead the University of Pittsburgh as Chancellor. See, Joan T.A. Gabel named 19th University of Pittsburgh chancellor | University of Pittsburgh

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