Photo: President Bottomly with parents and students at orientation

H. Kim Bottomly became the 13th president of Wellesley College in August 2007.

A renowned immunobiologist, she is the first scientist to lead Wellesley and the first president inaugurated in the 21st century. She has received recognition for her work as a strong proponent of women’s leadership in higher education, in particular STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and is frequently quoted as an expert in—and defender of—the benefits of a liberal arts education.

“Complex modern problems require not just leadership, but the ability to collaborate and navigate through multiple interests and viewpoints,” Bottomly says. “There is no better foundation than a Wellesley education for integrating knowledge across disciplines without losing sight of the human dimension.”

Bottomly is leading Wellesley into a global era. Under her leadership, Wellesley launched the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs and formalized a collaboration with Olin College of Engineering and Babson College to explore closer academic, social and business ties. During her presidency, the College has established initiatives to partner with leading international institutions to educate the next generation of women leaders, and in 2012, Wellesley became the first liberal arts college to offer courses through edX, the premier online education platform launched by Harvard and MIT. Bottomly is also leading an important effort that will renovate and renew the College’s historic buildings to adapt them to program requirements for the 21st century—the magnitude of which the College has not seen in 100 years. She is dedicated to ensuring that Wellesley remains accessible to and supportive of students of diverse backgrounds so that, just as Wellesley’s founder Henry Durant envisioned in 1875, bright young women, no matter their financial background, can benefit from a Wellesley education. 

A Montana native, Bottomly graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in zoology and earned her doctorate in biological structure from the University of Washington School of Medicine. Bottomly’s research has focused on the molecular and cellular factors that influence the initiation of immune responses. She has written more than 170 peer-reviewed articles and served on numerous scientific and medical committees and advisory boards. In 2009, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2008, the University of Washington designated her as among their ‘Wondrous 100,” one of the top 100 alumni of the past century.

full biography