Irma McClaurin, who is Shaw's 15th president, is the first woman to hold the permanent job of steering one of the oldest historically black college in the South.
McClaurin has served for three years as associate vice president for system academic administration at the University of Minnesota and as executive director of the university's Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center.
"I am confident that, under the leadership of Dr. McClaurin, our esteemed university will continue to be a beacon of light and opportunity for the thousands of young men and women who value education and hope to become productive citizens,” Willie Gary, chairman of Shaw's Board of Trustees, said in a statement.
“My goal is to reignite a vision of research, teaching, scholarship and community engagement that prepares students to become engaged, challenging, optimistic and socially responsible citizens in a diverse and global world," McClaurin said in a statement.
McClaurin previously worked at the Ford Foundation, where she supported the fields of black studies and women's studies. She also was an anthropology professor at the University of Florida, a professor of women's studies at Bennett College in Greensboro and deputy provost at Fisk University in Tennessee.
McClaurin earned a bachelor's degree in American studies from Grinnell College in Iowa and a master's of fine arts degree in English and creative writing and a doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Dorothy Cowser Yancy, the retired president of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, served as Shaw's interim president for the past 15 months.
Yancy erased more than $31 million dollars in debt at Shaw by securing federal loans, implementing cost-saving measures in athletics and administration and raising more than $400,000 in donations in less than a year.
Former Shaw President Clarence Newsome left the university in May 2009 amid growing discontent among students and staff and mounting debts. He had been at Shaw since 2003.
Shaw laid off a number of employees, gave others a pay cut and suspended retirement benefits in late 2008. Dozens of students also protested about poor living conditions in university dorms.
Founded in 1865 as one of the first black colleges in the South, Shaw has about 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students.
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