Meet the President and Rector

Fall Term, 2021

Message from Professor Shalini Randeria, President and Rector

I am honored to serve as President and Rector of CEU at a time when the University's work is more important than ever. The academic cornerstone of an open society, CEU generates knowledge and engagement around democracy, social justice, and equity, across all areas of local and global concerns.

The University is mission-driven, an institution like no other. Our work is informed by our founding values – justice, equality, liberal democracy, academic freedom, and rule of law. Most of our students receive financial aid in order to be able to attend CEU (over 80% receive some form of support, including fee-waivers and stipends).

Our research is world-class; we offer US- and Austrian-accredited degrees in an English language setting. Our small class size allows for intensive mentoring by professors, who also involve students in their own research projects. More locally, we contribute to—and participate in—the intellectual as well as the academic life of Vienna and Budapest.

Last year we launched our undergraduate provision with two interdisciplinary programs; this year we introduced a third innovative one. With the growing recognition that lifelong learning is increasingly important, we are also investing in, and developing, our professional programs.

But whether you are undergraduate, postgraduate or developing your professional skills, as you join CEU, you will quickly recognize the academic excellence of education at CEU, a dynamic University with a cosmopolitan faculty and a highly international student body.

The challenges facing your generation of students are real. So too are the opportunities before you to directly address the need for equity, for sustainability, for justice. At CEU you are part of a diverse community; common all our students is an extraordinary drive to make the world a better place.

As a parent of a CEU student: thank you. Your support, your encouragement and, above all, your commitment to quality education as a force for change has motivated you to choose and to trust CEU.

As a member of faculty or staff: again, thank you. Your work ensures CEU is known as an impactful and vibrant university — an intellectual powerhouse, as well as a professionally and personally rewarding place to work and study.

A university is its community: ours is unique.


American-born Indian social anthropologist/sociologist Shalini Randeria has had a distinguished academic career at institutions of higher education across Europe. She was Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna and Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva, where she was also Director of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy. She holds the Excellence Chair at the University of Bremen, where she leads a research group on “soft authoritarianisms”.

She was educated at the Universities of Delhi, Heidelberg and Oxford, where she belonged to the first cohort of women Rhodes Scholars. She received her PhD and her Habilitation from the Free University of Berlin. She has held faculty positions at the Free University, Berlin; the University of Munich and University of Zurich, where she was Professor of Social Anthropology and Co-Director of the Gender Studies Competence Centre. She was Founding Chair of CEU’s Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology in Budapest.

Currently she is Deputy Chair of the Class of Social and Related Sciences, Academia Europaea; Distinguished Fellow of the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto University and Distinguished Visiting Fellow of IIASA, Luxemburg; serves on the Board of European Forum Alpbach and is Member of the International Advisory Panel on Population and Development, UNFPA EECA group. She has served more recently on the CEU’s Board of Trustees.

Shalini Randeria has published widely on the anthropology of globalization, law, the state and social movements. Trained as a sociologist and social anthropologist in Western and non-Western social science traditions, she was exposed to a diversity of disciplinary orientations and theoretical perspectives. Her research on soft authoritarianism; democracy and demography; forced displacement and dispossession; and the politics of (un)accountability has been carried out in collaboration with historians, political scientists and legal scholars. She has led research projects with a comparative perspective on (i) the effects of international investment agreements and arbitration on governance in Argentina, Czech Republic, Mexico, India; (ii) counter-hegemonic globalisation in India, Columbia, Portugal, Mozambique; (iii) the (un)sustainability of changing patterns of food consumption and waste management among middle classes in south and south-east Asia; and most recently (iv) the puzzle of unspent public funds in Italy and India.

Her influential podcast series, Democracy in Question, goes into its third season in autumn 2021. In a wide-ranging exploration of the diversity of experiences of democracy and the challenges and dilemmas facing liberal democracies around the world today, each episode features Professor Randeria in conversation with a leading scholar. Together they address what needs to be done to ensure the future well-being of our democratic institutions and practices.

In June 2021, The Board of Trustees of Central European University elected Shalini Randeria as CEU's 6th President and Rector. Professor Randeria is the first woman, and the first person from the global South, to take up this position since the founding of the university 30 years ago.