Helen Giles-Gee is first female, African American president of University of the Sciences

    The new president of the University of the Sciences has been on the job for several months, but her inauguration ceremony is Friday afternoon.

    Helen Giles-Gee is the university’s first female, and first African American chief. She says it has been mostly members of the media–not her colleagues or students–who’ve made a big deal of those firsts.

    “Hopefully this is something that should happen over and over again,” she said. “It’s just a person being selected because of experience and qualifications and an ability to do the job.”

    Giles-Gee said part of her job is to continue to distinguish her university from the other health and sciences powerhouses in Philadelphia.

    To refine that task, she sometimes asks her students: “Why are you here? Why are you not at Penn or Drexel?”

    “There is a difference,” Giles-Gee said. “And it’s our size.”

    She said the University of the Sciences boasts a 13 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

    The university’s subject-area focus will continue but Giles-Gee said she also values training in critical thinking and “flexibility of mind.”

    “Consider that I was the president of a liberal arts college for seven years and I come here to be president of a highly focused science and health care institution, I definitely see the combination as being important,” Giles-Gee said.

    Giles-Gee earned a doctorate in evaluation and techniques of experimental research from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a former president of Keene State College in New Hampshire and worked as provost at Rowan University in New Jersey.

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