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Nannerl O. Keohane

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Nannerl Keohane

Nannerl Keohane

As the first contemporary woman to head both a major women’s college (Wellesley) and a great research university (Duke), Nan Keohane is a major force in changing perceptions about women’s capabilities to lead major institutions of higher learning.

Keohane became president and professor of political science at Wellesley in 1981, and led the largest fundraising drive in the history of American private colleges, overturning conventional wisdom that women would not become heavily involved in a major philanthropic effort and were not supportive of higher education. Also during Keohane’s tenure at Wellesley, she implemented an improved affirmative action program and increased both minority student enrollment and faculty hiring. She became President and Professor of Political Science at Duke University in 1993, where she championed increased faculty diversity and promoted the hiring and advancement of women faculty.

Keohane has been active in her field of political science, holding various positions in the American Political Science Association and serving as an editor of its journal. She served on the Trilateral Commission, the Council of Foreign Relations, and on the boards of directors of IBM, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Director’s Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health. She is a powerful contemporary role model for women, a trailblazer who has performed with excellence and who has shattered centuries of prejudice about women’s capabilities in academe.

Courtesy of the National Women’s Hall of Fame

Note: Keohane’s most recent book is Higher Ground: Ethics and Leadership in the Modern University. She and her noted political-scientist husband, Robert Keohane, are both on the faculty of the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University.

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