The LSE’s 16th Director, Dame Nemat Talaat Shafik, better known by her nickname Minouche, began her term on the 1st of September 2017 and has since completed her third week.
Dr Shafik is the LSE’s first permanent female Director and was formerly the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, Markets and Banking. Previously, she was Deputy Managing Director of the IMF from 2011 to 2014, responsible for the IMF’s $1 billion administrative budget. She was Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development from 2008 to 2011, and before that, she was the youngest ever Vice-President at the World Bank at the age of 36.
In a column for Times Higher Education on the 31st August, the day before she assumed her position, Dr Shafik wrote “There is indifference towards those who possess the knowledge and evidence to better inform policymaking on a national and international level”, and suggested that universities needed to raise awareness of the peer review, data requirements, and processes for funding research at the heart of academic life in order to remedy this.
She also underlined the need for engagement with different views, saying “The world needs neutral spaces for real debate between different worldviews more than ever – universities are well positioned to provide that while staying true to their values of respectful discourse and rigour.”
Dr Shafik, who earned a Master’s in Economics at the LSE in 1986, was born in Egypt and is both a British and US national. She has described the LSE as a unique institution, saying “The school’s long tradition of bringing the best of social science research and teaching to bear on the problems of the day is needed now more than ever.”
Dr Shafik follows Julia Black, who was Interim Director of the LSE in 2016/2017, and Craig Calhoun, Director from 2012 to 2016. She has issued a welcome video to students via Student News, where she advises students to “work hard, and have fun”. It remains to be seen what Dr Shafik can do about the extremely low levels of student satisfaction at the LSE, which is 11 percent below its benchmark, and is the most pressing issue that students at the LSE currently face.
photo credit: City AM