On December 5, 2022, Jennifer Raab, President of Hunter College, announced that she would be stepping down at the end of the academic years in June 2023. The following day, on December 6th she received the National Institute of Social Sciences Gold Medal of Honor.
A 21-year veteran of the campus C-Suite, in her letter to the Hunter College community Raab refers to the fact that during her tenure there have been five governors and four mayors. As a former government leader (Raab served as Chair of the New York City Landmarks Commission from 1994-2001), it is no surprise that she thought to measure her time in office with a marker to public service. Raab shares prior public service with a majority of the lawyers who have been appointed to campus presidencies.
A 1985 graduate of Harvard Law School, Raab earned an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, and a BA from Cornell University. Prior to serving Hunter College, Raab was a litigator at two highly respected New York City law firms – Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Like a growing number of lawyer presidents, Raab did not have employment experience in higher education prior to her appointment. In reviewing a long list of impressive accomplishments during her tenure, Raab’s lack of prior engagement in higher education did not seem to impact her ability to lead the campus, and in fact her skill set enable the campus to grow and thrive, including having raised $335M in private philanthropic support for the College. In fact, just one month ago Raab announced a $52M gift from philanthropist Leonard Lauder to establish the Evelyn Lauder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Program at the College. Upon learning of her planned departure from Hunter, the Foundation Board Executive Committee described her as having provided unprecedented and transformational leadership.
When Raab was first appointed as the 13th President of Hunter College in 2001, she joined a very small cadre of women lawyer presidents – in fact through all of the 2000s there were only 18. In the 2010s, and today the total number of women lawyer presidents appointed from the 1970s to present totals at 94 (and soon to be 95 when Amy Parsons is officially appointed to lead Colorado State University). For a more in-depth discussion of women lawyer presidents, see Chapter 5 in May it Please the Campus: Lawyers Leading Higher Education (2022).