After an eight-month search, Agnes Scott College has named Leocadia I. Zak as the president-elect and successor of current President Elizabeth Kiss, who will be stepping down in June. Zak will undertake her role as the ninth president of Agnes Scott College beginning July 1, 2018. The announcement was made during a ceremony which took place in Evans Dining Hall early this afternoon, complete with the traditional bagpipe accompaniment and ringing of the Main Hall tower bell.
Zak, who was appointed by Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency for seven years, has a background in international project finance and economic development. She currently teaches International Project Finance at Georgetown School of Law as an adjunct faculty member and has previously taught at Boston University School of Law. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Zak holds a J.D. degree from Northeastern University School of Law.
In her time as director for the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, she testified before Congress regarding a variety of issues concerning the agency, worked closely with heads of state and senior government officials, and lead initiatives to carry out the agency’s goal of advancing economic development in developing and middle-income countries while also advancing the creation of jobs domestically in the United States.
In her speech following the announcement of her new role as president-elect, Zak reminisced about her own experience attending a women’s college and implored students to “manage their destiny,” giving a speech filled with commitments to be an advocate for the success of Agnes Scott students.
The search process, carried out by the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, began with numerous campus community listening sessions and online surveys which culminated in the creation of a leadership profile. Zak was selected out of dozens of applications and nominations and underwent many rounds of interviews with students, faculty, staff and trustees before being submitted to the Board of trustees for approval.
The selection of Zak follows President Kiss’ May 18 announcement that she would be stepping down after twelve years of service. Alumna Elizabeth Rowe ‘15 was in attendance at the announcement ceremony and has worked closely with President Elizabeth Kiss in her role as Sustainability Fellow in the Center for Sustainability. “While it will be difficult to replace our feisty President Kiss, I am excited about the future of Agnes Scott under the leadership of President Zak!,” Rowe remarked in a comment to Her Campus. “You also know it’s going to be a great day when the bagpiper makes an appearance!”