Five things you may not know about QU’s first female president

By Sam Prevot

In July, Judy Olian takes over as Quinnipiac University president as John Lahey retires after 31 years. 

Olian, the dean at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, becomes the ninth president of the university and the first woman to hold the post. 

Since becoming UCLA's dean in 2006, the school has ranked among the top business schools in the world.

“She is a tireless and effective fundraiser,” UCLA distinguished professor Steven Lippman said.

Olian spearheaded a fundraising windfall that saw $400 million come into the school.

Lippman added, “Dean Olian has shown herself to be incredibly energetic and hard working with unsurpassed attention to detail. Her entrepreneurial bent is ideally suited to help Quinnipiac University excel in general and ascend the rankings in particular.”

According to University of California's compensation page, Olian earned $533,942.00 in 2016.

Before Olian officially becomes president on July 1, here are some facts you may not know about her and her journey to Quinnipiac.


1. She had a unique upbringing

Olian’s parents escaped the Holocaust -- a disaster that separated the couple for seven years before they were reunited. They moved to Australia, where Olian was born. She “ping-ponged” between Australia and Israel during her childhood, and also spent time as an au pair in Switzerland, according to a website run by UCLA assistant dean Dylan Stafford.

2. She’s a cancer survivor

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That same website revealed that Olian had cancer in her 20s and left her unable to have children. She said her experience is part of the reason why she loves working with young people and being involved in their education.

3. Her education has an international flair

Olian earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. After traveling to the United States with her first husband without a work visa, she entered grad school. She earned her master’s and doctorate in industrial relations from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

4. She teaches an extremely popular class at UCLA

Olian teaches “Critical Milestones in Preparing for Life in Leadership” with Peter Guber. Guber is CEO of Mandalay Entertainment and owns the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

5. She is more than just a professor and dean

Olian is also the author of a weekly syndicated newspaper column and host of a monthly television show on current topics in business. She is a much sought-after speaker and consultant for major corporations. In addition she serves on the board of advisors for Catalyst, a nonprofit organization with a mission of creating better workplaces for women.