Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees has unanimously and enthusiastically elected Dr. Joyce P. Jacobsen as the 29th President of Hobart College and the 18th of William Smith College. Currently serving as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Wesleyan University, Jacobsen is a renowned scholar of economics, an award-winning teacher and an experienced administrator. With degrees from Harvard, The London School of Economics and Stanford University, and with more than three decades of experience taking on increasingly complex roles in higher education, Jacobsen received the unanimous recommendation of the Presidential Search Committee. She is the first woman to serve as president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
“President Jacobsen is a prominent scholar and an esteemed educator with a deep understanding of the interdisciplinary inquiry so vital to our mission here at Hobart and William Smith,” says Chair of the Board of Trustees Thomas S. Bozzuto ’68, L.H.D. ’18. “In her work with students and colleagues in the academy, and with preeminent national and international organizations, she has distinguished herself as a remarkable leader with the experience, values and vision to pilot the Colleges to new heights.”
“I am struck by the scope of Hobart and William Smith’s impact in Geneva and around the globe, and am looking forward to working with a community so clearly invested in questions, ideas and actions that make the world a better, brighter place,” says Jacobsen. “The Colleges have deservedly earned a reputation for trailblazing academic programs led by a talented faculty and staff; a remarkably engaged pool of alumni and alumnae; and students of deep curiosity and creativity. I couldn’t be more excited to join this vibrant community.”
Described by her colleagues as an authentic scholar and a person of deep character, Jacobsen has broad responsibility at Wesleyan where she oversees the entire academic enterprise, including athletics, institutional research, and community partnerships. At Wesleyan, she has been a thoughtful contributor to student affairs and equity and inclusion, while also helping to create fundraising and stewardship plans and collaborating on admissions and enrollment strategies. With a deep understanding of the complexities of higher education infrastructure and finances, Jacobsen is involved in planning the University’s budget, including supervision of a considerable annual portfolio.
“Joyce Jacobsen has made myriad contributions to Wesleyan University as a teacher, scholar, colleague, faculty leader and, for the last several years, as Provost,” says President of Wesleyan University Michael S. Roth. “Our university has benefitted immeasurably from her many years of innovative thinking and caring practice, and I have every confidence that she will bring these qualities to her new position as president of Hobart and William Smith. We will miss her.”
An expert on labor economics, particularly the economics of gender, Jacobsen is the author of scores of journal articles, book chapters and book reviews exploring sex segregation, migration and the effects of labor force intermittency on women’s earnings, as well as the economics of wine and other collectibles. Her books include The Economics of Gender, Queer Economics: A Reader (co-edited with her former student, Adam Zeller, who started the project as a senior essay) and the textbook Labor Markets and Employment Relationships (with Gilbert L. Skillman).
Jacobsen earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University and M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with her A.B. in economics as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She began her academic career in 1988 as an assistant professor at Rhodes College before moving to Wesleyan University in 1993. She earned full professor at Wesleyan in 2000, and was awarded an endowed chair as Andrews Professor of Economics in 2003. She was the recipient of the University’s prestigious Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2007. She began her work as an administrator in 2013 when she was appointed Dean of Social Sciences and Director of Global Initiatives at Wesleyan, and then Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in 2015.
Jacobsen has been a visiting professor at Colorado College and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, where she held the Jantina Tammes Chair in Gender Studies. She has consulted for the World Bank, the ACLU and other nonprofit organizations. She served as editor of Eastern Economic Journal (2005-10) and on the editorial boards of a number of professional journals. Jacobsen was President of the International Association for Feminist Economics from 2016-17, served as a member of the American Economic Association Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession, and is currently an elected board member of the Eastern Economic Association. During the past 20 years, she has been a member of several projects and working groups for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Jacobsen is married to Bill Boyd, Visiting Scholar in the Quantitative Analysis Center at Wesleyan, who holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, an M.S. in computer science from the University of Memphis, and a B.S. in physics from Rhodes College. Jacobsen and Boyd have two grown children, Catherine Boyd and Kenneth Boyd. Jacobsen has two grown stepchildren, Will Boyd and Kara Boyd Nunn; and five step-grandchildren. Originally from Reno, Nevada, Jacobsen is the only child of William Jacobsen, Professor Emeritus of English at University of Nevada, Reno, an expert on North American Indian languages, including Makah, Salinan and Washoe, and Virginia Chan, an academic administrator who worked for the Basque Studies program at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Jacobsen will succeed Interim President Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D. ’12, who was appointed following the resignation of President Gregory J. Vincent ’83. She begins her presidency on July 1, 2019. The Presidential Search, led by committee co-chairs and Vice Chairs of the HWS Board of Trustees Cynthia Gelsthorpe Fish ’82 and Andrew G. McMaster Jr. ’74, P’09, began in June of 2018. The Colleges consulted with the Chicago-based executive search firm, Isaacson, Miller, which helped identify candidates and coordinate the process that led to the selection of Jacobsen.