Karol Mason was an assistant attorney general under the Obama administration. She begins her new role as John Jay College president on Aug. 1.
A top official in the Obama administration’s justice department will become the first black and first woman president of Manhattan’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, trustees said Monday.
Karol Mason, 59, a former assistant attorney general, was a leading voice in the department on juvenile justice, bail reform and re-entry.
She will take over Aug. 1 as John Jay’s fifth president, and said she would focus on the "justice" part of criminal justice.
"John Jay has been a progressive leader in improving law enforcement and addressing the toughest issues in our criminal and juvenile justice systems," Mason said.
"Serving as the college’s president will afford a unique opportunity for me to combine my passion to improve access to higher education, generally, and particularly for communities often marginalized, with my desire to continue to improve our criminal and juvenile justice systems so that they reflect our highest ideals."
CUNY’s announcement came with high praise from former President Barack Obama’s senior advisers.
"Throughout her career, and especially during her time at the Department of Justice, Karol was an advocate for principled research and the development of new ways to deal with issues that we have confronted for so long.," former Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett called Mason "a dear friend."
"Her unwavering commitment to justice is both the hallmark of her brilliant career and the definition of her character," Jarrett said. "Karol’s integrity, judgment, management skills and immense talent are ideally suited for one of the country’s finest criminal justice and liberal arts institutions."
Mason succeeds Jeremy Travis, who has served as president since Aug. 2004. Under his leadership the college built and moved into its state-of-the-art, expanded campus.