William E. “Brit” Kirwan
Chancellor Emeritus, University System of Maryland
Co-Chair, April 2007 – Dec. 31, 2015;
Chair, Jan. 1, 2016 – Dec. 31, 2016
Dr. William English Kirwan joined the Commission in 2006 and was named co-chairman in May 2007. He became the sole chair in January 2016 serving with two co-vice chairs, Carol Cartwright and Arne Duncan.
On June 30, 2015, Dr. Kirwan retired from the University System of Maryland after completing a successful 50-year career in higher education as a faculty member, university president and system head. He remains active in higher education serving as executive director of Transforming Post-Secondary Education in Mathematics (TSPE Math), an initiative sponsored by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
A nationally recognized authority on critical issues facing higher education, he served as president of the University of Maryland (1988-98) and Ohio State University (1998-2002) and as chancellor of the University System of Maryland (2002-2015). Prior to his presidency at Maryland, he was a member of the University of Maryland faculty for 24 years.
Among his many honors is the 2010 TIAA Institute 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. In 2009, the Carnegie Corporation of New York selected him for its Academic Leadership Award, which included a $500,000 grant to fund USM academic priorities. In 2002, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and also has been awarded honorary degrees by three universities. Kirwan has been elected to the Hall of Distinguished Alumni at both the University of Kentucky and Rutgers University.
Currently, Kirwan chairs the National Research Council Board of Higher Education and Workforce. He is past chair of, among other boards, the American Council for Higher Education, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, and the Business Higher Education Forum. 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.
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.