Featured Speakers

The 2012 Presidents Institute features a strong lineup of speakers addressing this year's theme, “Champions of the Liberal Arts: Presidential Leadership in Independent Higher Education.”

Featured plenary sessions this year include:
Keynote Address (Wednesday, January 4)
A Vigorous Case for the Liberal Arts and Presidential Leadership
The distinguishing feature of American higher education is its undergraduate education rooted in the liberal arts. Yet the liberal arts are sometimes viewed with skepticism by students, parents, and other observers who think that professional preparation and workforce development are the more important and pragmatic purposes of higher education. Online education and large classes may offer more cost-efficient modes of educational delivery than the traditional, residential college with its low student-to-faculty ratio, but using these pedagogies while retaining the educational benefits of the liberal arts remains a challenge. Ironically, the American liberal arts college model is now gaining favor in other parts of the world where a strong case is being made for the central role of the liberal arts as the best way to develop critical and integrative thinkers, productive and creative employees, committed and compassionate citizens, and happy and healthy human beings. The distinguished former president of Duke University and Wellesley College will issue a call to action rooted in the intrinsic importance of the liberal arts in independent colleges and universities and the relevance of presidential commitment to this goal.
Nannerl O. Keohane was president of Wellesley College from 1981 to 1993 and of Duke University from 1993 to 2004. She presently serves as Laurance S. Rockefeller Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Woodrow Wilson School and the Center for Human Values at Princeton University. She taught at Swarthmore College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University, where she won the Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching and chaired the Faculty Senate. Three times she was selected as a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Keohane writes about and teaches political philosophy, leadership, and feminist theory. She is the author of Thinking about Leadership (Princeton University Press, 2010), Higher Ground: Ethics and Leadership in the Modern University (Duke University Press, 2006), and Philosophy and the State in France (1980), and she co-edited Feminist Theory: A Critique of Ideology (1981). She has served as vice president of the American Political Science Association and on the editorial boards of the American Political Science Review, Ethics, Political Theory, and Signs. She is also a member of the Harvard Corporation and the board of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Her current research interests concern leadership and inequality, including gender issues. Keohane holds a BA from Wellesley College, an MA from St. Anne’s College of Oxford University, and a PhD from Yale University.

Plenary Session (Thursday, January 5)
The Economy and the Future of Independent Colleges
The stalled recovery from the Great Recession continues to present significant financial challenges for private liberal arts colleges and universities. Effective presidential leadership requires attention to the latest trends in tuition-pricing, financial aid policies, projected enrollment patterns, and operational costs while seeking creative ways to convert challenges into strategic opportunities for independent institutions. How do these trends influence the liberal arts-oriented independent colleges and universities? To what extent should presidents of independent institutions respond differently from the leaders in other sectors of higher education? Noted economist Ronald G. Ehrenberg will outline both the economic challenges and genuine opportunities facing independent colleges and universities.
Ronald G. Ehrenberg is the Irving M. Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics at Cornell University and director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. From 1995 to 1998 he served as Cornell’s vice president for academic programs, planning, and budgeting. A member of the Cornell faculty for 36 years, he was awarded the General Mills Foundation Award for Exemplary Undergraduate Teaching. In 2005, he was named a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, the highest award for undergraduate teaching at Cornell. Ehrenberg has authored or coauthored over 150 papers and authored or edited 26 books. Ehrenberg is coauthor of Educating Scholars: Doctoral Education in the Humanities (Princeton University Press, 2010) and Modern Labor Economics: Theory and Public Policy (11th ed.) and author of Tuition Rising: Why College Costs So Much (Harvard University Press, 2002). He is the editor of American University: National Treasure or Endangered Species? (Cornell University Press, 1997), Governing Academia (Cornell University Press, 2004) and What’s Happening to Public Higher Education? (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007) and coeditor of Science and the University (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007) and Doctoral Education and the Faculty of the Future (Cornell University Press, 2008). Ehrenberg is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a research fellow at IZA (Berlin). He is a member of the boards of trustees of the State University of New York and Emeriti Retirement Health Solutions and is a member of the National Research Council Committees on Measuring Higher Education Productivity and Research Universities. He is a fellow of the Society of Labor Economists and a national associate of the National Academies of Science and Engineering. He received a BA from Harpur College (now SUNY Binghamton) and an MA and PhD in economics from Northwestern University.

Plenary Session (Friday, January 6)
Fostering Civility, Interfaith Understanding, and Civic Engagement in Independent Colleges
One of the hallmarks of many private liberal arts colleges and universities is a curriculum that engages students in understanding different cultures and traditions and encourages students to address the needs of society. Independent institutions frequently foster a campus environment that promotes civility, appreciation of diversity, and civic engagement. As religious diversity increases in our culture and on our campuses, many campus leaders feel ill-equipped to address the issues that arise with the presence of students and faculty members of different faith traditions. In a global and historical context, religion has often been a cause of division rather than a source for civic unity. How is an understanding of religious diversity related to the mission of the liberal arts college? How can college presidents lead their institutions in ways that foster interfaith cooperation in a pluralistic society? Small colleges are reasonably effective in promoting diversity, but on most campuses diversity is understood mainly in terms of race and ethnicity, not religion. White House advisor and founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, Eboo Patel, will explore ways in which presidents of private colleges and universities can lead their institutions to foster civility, interfaith understanding, and civic engagement.
Eboo Patel is the founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based international organization that brings young people from different faith communities together to build understanding and cooperation. He was named one of “America’s Best Leaders of 2009” by U.S. News & World Report. Author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, Patel is also a regular contributor to the Washington Post, USA Today, and CNN. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, the Review of Faith, International Affairs, and the Sunday Times of India. Patel served on President Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He serves on the Religious Advisory Committee of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation USA . Patel is a Young Global Leader in the World Economic Forum and an Ashoka Fellow, which recognizes social entrepreneurs whose ideas are changing the world. He was named by Islamica Magazine as one of ten young Muslim visionaries shaping Islam in America, chosen by the Harvard Kennedy School Review as one of five future policy leaders to watch, and along with IFYC, received the Roosevelt Institute’s Freedom of Worship Medal in 2009. In 2010 he was awarded the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Religion. Patel holds a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign and a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Closing Plenary Session (Saturday, January 7)
The Enduring Role of Independent Colleges in American Higher Education
American higher education is in a period of great flux. Continuing stress in the U.S. economy presents myriad challenges to presidential leadership. It is useful to recall that private liberal arts colleges and universities have endured great trials in the past. What can be learned by looking at the trajectory of independent colleges over the past two decades? What new opportunities and challenges lie ahead for these teaching-oriented, mission-driven institutions? What lessons can seasoned veterans provide to guide presidents of liberal arts colleges and universities? Three renowned higher education leaders will offer their insights into the enduring role of independent colleges in American higher education.
Charles L. Currie, SJ retired recently after 14 years as president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. He previously served as president of Wheeling College (now Wheeling Jesuit University) and as president of Xavier University (OH ) as well as rector of the Jesuit community at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Father Currie taught chemistry at Georgetown University. He also was a Senior Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center where he developed a program on science, technology, and culture with a particular emphasis on environmental issues. In 1989 he was named special assistant to the president of Georgetown to coordinate the university’s response to the tragic assassination of Jesuit priests in El Salvador. Father Currie studied at Fordham University, Boston College, and Woodstock College, gaining graduate degrees in philosophy and theology, and at the Catholic University of America where he earned a doctorate in physical chemistry.
Marylouise Fennell, RSM has served for two decades as senior counsel of the Council of Independent Colleges. She is a founding partner of the Hyatt- Fennell executive search firm and executive director of the Interamerican Consortium of Higher Education (CIDES). Fennell was president of Carlow University from 1982 to 1988. Previously she served as founder and director of the Counseling Institute, director of the Pastoral Ministry Institute, and founder and director of the Cross Cultural Counseling Symposium at St. Joseph College in Connecticut. She also has held teaching and clinical positions at the University of Hartford and Boston University. Fennell is co-editor of the five-volume Presidential Perspectives series. She received a BA from the Diocesan Sisters College, an MEd and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from the University of Hartford, and an EdD from Boston University.
David L. Warren has been president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) since 1993, working as an advocate for America’s private colleges and for increased financial aid funding for all college students. He previously served as president of Ohio Wesleyan University and as chief administrative officer of the City of New Haven, Connecticut. He held a variety of positions at Antioch University, including senior vice president and university provost. Warren also served in administrative and faculty positions at Yale University, including assistant secretary for state and community relations. Warren earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Washington State University, master’s degrees in both divinity and urban studies from Yale University, and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Michigan. He also was a Fulbright Scholar in India and a Rockefeller Fellow at Yale.