Chancellor Emeritus, University System of Maryland

Dr. William English Kirwan joined the Commission in 2006 and was named co-chairman in May 2007.

On June 30, 2015, Dr. Kirwan retired after completing a successful 50-year career in higher education.  He remains co-chairman of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Dr. Kirwan became the third chancellor of the University System of Maryland on August 1, 2002, and served in that role for 12 years. A widely respected academic leader, Dr. Kirwan served as president of Ohio State University  four years (1998-2002) and President of the University of Maryland, College Park for 10 years (1988-1998).  Prior to his presidency, he was a member of the University of Maryland faculty for 24 years.  Currently, Dr. Kirwan chairs the National Research Council Board of Higher Education and Workforce and chairs the College Board's Commission on Access, Admissions, and Success in Higher Education.  In 2009, he received the Carnegie Corporation Leadership Award in recognition of his commitment to excellence in undergraduate education and outreach.  In 2010, he received the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence. Considered one of the nation's top higher education honors, this award recognizes leadership and commitment to higher education and contributions to the greater good.

He also served as chairman of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Board of Directors from 2000-2003, as well as terms on the NCAA’s Executive Committee and Committee on Agents and Amateurism.

Dr. Kirwan received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Kentucky and his master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in 1962 and 1964. He is a member of several honorary and professional societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, the American Mathematical Society, and the Mathematical Association of America. A prolific scholar, he is co-editor of the book Advances in Complex Analysis and has published many articles on mathematical research.

A national leader in higher education, Dr. Kirwan is past Chair of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges’ Board of Directors and of the American Council on Education’s Board. He is also a member of the Business-Higher Education Forum.

Dr. Kirwan was appointed by President Clinton to serve as a member of the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century and chaired the National Research Council’s Commission on the Mathematical Sciences in the Year 2000, which produced the report, Moving Beyond Myths: Revitalizing Undergraduate Mathematics, National Academy Press (1991). He was appointed by President Bush to the Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The recipient of many honors, Dr. Kirwan has been elected to the Hall of Distinguished Alumni at both the University of Kentucky and Rutgers University. He also was selected to receive the Rutgers University award for Career Achievement on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of that university’s graduate school. Dr. Kirwan received the 2004 National Innovators Award, the highest honor awarded by Minority Access, Inc., recognizing his commitment to diversity and to improving the recruitment and retention of minorities. In 2002, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition, Dr. Kirwan received the Maryland Senate’s First Citizen of Maryland Award in 1998.

Return to Members & Bios »