The 50 greatest leaders: See who made the cut from higher ed

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Fortune has released its fourth annual ranking of the world's 50 greatest leaders—and several higher ed trailblazers have made the list. 

To compile the list, Fortune's editors ranked leaders in all sectors of society worldwide based on:

  • Their levels of empathy;
  • Their staying power;
  • How well they inspire others to act; and
  • How well they inspire others to follow them. 

The personality traits the best leaders have in common

The list did not include those who ran for president in 2016—or President Donald Trump himself—since, as Fortune's senior editor-at-large Geoff Colvin argues, "simply applying for the world's top leadership job... does not in itself make one a great leader. "

The full list includes leaders from sports, religion, politics, business, music and entertainment, and more, but the winners from the education world include:

#4. Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has paid out nearly $37 billion in grants over the years—a great deal of which has gone to higher ed. The foundation's research has sparked conversations and innovations, and Gates' personal insights have served as inspiration to other leaders.

#15. Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Texas Tech University Climate Science Center

Hayhoe's PBS web series, "Global Weirding," has positioned her as what Fortune calls a "friendly if unexpected force in spreading the science [of climate change]."

Hayhoe and her husband co-authored the book Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, drawing from Hayhoe's experience as both an Evangelical Christian and climate scientist. Hayhoe has been praised for her patient and compassionate approach to reconciling religion and science.

#32. Rebecca Richards-Kortum, professor of bioengineering at Rice University

Richards-Kortum was a semifinalist for a $100 million MacArther grant for her work as a health and bioengineering pioneer. Her work in the field has been groundbreaking due to its affordability—Richards-Kortum has delivered medical technology such as light-based therapy and microendoscopes for cancer screening to some of the poorest communities in the world.

#35. Diana Natalicio, president of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)

Natalicio has served as UTEP president for 29 years, during which time she has fought to keep tuition prices affordable and course schedules flexible for the 80% Hispanic, primarily low-income student body. Natalicio has upheld her strong devotion to accessibility while never allowing the school's academics to fall through the cracks. Under Natalicio's presidency, funding for research at UTEP has also increased (Colvin, Fortune, 3/24/16; Murray, Fortune, 3/24/16; Fortune, accessed 3/27). 

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