William G. Bowen

William G. Bowen WF ’55 (deceased), 2012 National Humanities Medal Laureate; noted academic leader; president emeritus of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; former president of Princeton University

Not Shying Away: Bill Bowen on Leadership and Change in Higher Education

In Lessons Learned: Reflections of a University President (Princeton University Press, 2010), William G. Bowen WF ’55 urges presidents “to say clearly and forcefully what you believe on important university-related matters. It is unwise to equivocate too much or shy away from controversy.”

Over the course of nearly five decades as a leader in higher education, Dr. Bowen has not shied away from controversy. Both during his tenure as president of Princeton University and in his role heading the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, he has been a bold, even insistent leader and commentator on some of the toughest challenges facing higher education, from coeducation and diversity to the cost of college to digital education. The last of these is the subject of his latest book, Higher Education in the Digital Age (ITHAKA/Princeton University Press, 2013).

Dr. Bowen, an Ohio native and the first in his family to attend college, received his Woodrow Wilson Fellowship as a senior at Denison University and completed his Ph.D. in economics at Princeton in just three years. Dr. Bowen is one of the best-known and most widely respected higher education leaders of the past half-century. The citation for his 2012 National Humanities Medal emphasizes his strengths as both a visionary and an administrator: “While his widely discussed publications have scrutinized the effects of policy, Dr. Bowen has used his leadership to put theories into practice and strive for new heights of academic excellence.”

See full article in the Spring 2014 newsletter.


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