The 10th President of Bennington College
Bennington College invites applications and nominations for the position of President, which will commence July 1, 2013. Situated on 440 breathtaking acres in Bennington, Vermont, the College currently enrolls 826 students (688 undergraduate and 138 graduate) and offers an enviable student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. Bennington was the first American college to include the visual and performing arts in a liberal arts education, and it is the only college to require that students spend the winter term—every year—at work in the world.
Bennington’s president must be eager and able to lead a talented, devoted faculty; an exceptional management team; and a lively, committed support staff. He or she must challenge students with wisdom, kindness, and authentic interest. Regardless of previous experience, he or she must be a “practitioner of ideas,” committed to public as well as academic discourse, and eager to bring the values and the insights of his or her own profession and practice to the urgent issues of our time. Above all, Bennington’s new president will be expected to embody and champion the core values of this unique institution. Though Bennington’s alumni body of 11,000 is relatively small, it has had a significant impact on the intellectual and cultural life of America since the opening of the College in the early 1930s.
Since its founding in 1932, Bennington has viewed students as protagonists in their own educations. With the help of the faculty, each student is required to develop, revise, implement, and evaluate an individual academic plan that frames and constitutes his or her undergraduate trajectory. In support of this educational program, Bennington has assembled a faculty that believes that all liberal learning can be taught effectively by teacher-practitioners free to teach, in the words of one, “what keeps me awake at night.” The result is a continuously evolving and intentionally elastic institution that puts a premium on the creation of new work, personal responsibility, and the contribution of the individual while ensuring that students learn, perhaps above all, how to merge the ideals of personal freedom with those of public responsibility.
Bennington’s unique innovations in curricula continuously challenge yet sustain its students and faculty to graduate small classes of tested students, regardless of chosen field, notably confident in their capacity to engage and succeed in the world in a manner advanced and distinct among peers.
The College encourages nominations from diverse realms of interest, experience, and accomplishment. The successful candidate must be able to demonstrate a commitment to Bennington’s core values and the ability to nurture and extend their expression both on campus and to the rest of the world.
The president of Bennington College works closely and collaboratively with a board of 22 trustees, faculty, staff, students, parents, and alumni to provide leadership and direction to the College. The new president will be expected to enhance the College’s existing strengths and help it develop new ones during his or her tenure as its tenth president.
Among the major challenges facing the new president will be providing strategic leadership and management direction for the next phase of Bennington’s development that will preserve and capitalize on its mission and unique educational model while adhering to its culture of innovation and self-reliance; strengthening Bennington’s reputation for academic and creative excellence; extending the College’s reach within the region and raising its profile in the United States and abroad; and mobilizing the human and financial resources needed to achieve Bennington’s goals and aspirations.
These challenges will require a president who will:
- Lead a highly participatory college community in the ongoing development and articulation of shared values and mission, reflecting both Bennington’s strong liberal arts tradition and its ambitions for the future;
- Oversee and guide a non-hierarchical team of faculty-practitioners and administrative officers responsible for the College’s teaching and research programs, administration, business and financial affairs, institutional advancement, and student life;
- Assure that multi-year strategic planning leads to effective resource allocation and management execution within planning processes that respect both the collaborative nature of college decision making and the need for bold institutional vision and leadership;
- Oversee the preparation and management of the budget and ensure resources are secured to meet it, appreciate and work with Bennington’s emphasis on investing in today rather than in building an endowment;
- Be the College’s principal external spokesperson and ambassador; link and connect the College with other leading academic institutions regionally and globally—leveraging the innovations for which Bennington is known to further its mission and reach;
- Engage with a wide range of external constituencies, notably a dynamic and creative alumni body, in advancing all aspects of the College;
- Work closely with a dedicated Board of Trustees committed to the values of liberal arts education and to college governance that supports and sustains those values.
Ideal Experience and Qualifications
Leading candidates for the presidency of Bennington will have distinguished records of accomplishment in higher education, diplomacy, scholarship, the arts, and/or other professional fields where in Bennington excels. They will have demonstrated great leadership and management skills, a passionate commitment to liberal arts undergraduate education, and exceptional professional education and research.
Strong personal dedication to the values of self-direction, community service, international understanding, and academic excellence is an important prerequisite, as is the ability to inspire students, faculty, and staff to uphold these core values. The successful candidate will also have a commitment to engage personally in fundraising and a proven record of accomplishment in this area. A doctoral degree is preferred but not a requirement for selection.
Leading candidates will possess intellectual depth, moral conviction, and personal integrity; the capacity to communicate effectively to individuals, small groups, and large audiences; and the sensitivity and flexibility to respond cooperatively and effectively to requests from others. They should have the ability to articulate an institutional vision with passion and clarity, to focus on strategic priorities, and to mobilize support from all College constituencies. Leading candidates must be fair and decisive and possess an assured, open personal style that underlines an intense sense of purpose. They should be active, versatile, energetic, well organized, and appreciative of the special mission, culture, and unique history of Bennington College.
Please send applications and nominations to the attention of Jane Phillips Donaldson
and Sarah James at firstname.lastname@example.org.