Laura R. Walker is the eleventh president of Bennington College. Since coming to Bennington in 2020, the College has received a record number of applications. Under her leadership, Bennington is developing a strategic plan and has opened a newly renovated wing of its iconic Barn building. She is committed to addressing the mental health and wellness needs of the community, developing the College’s role as an anti-racist community, and spearheading a renewed process of shared governance involving the board of trustees, faculty, staff and students.
Before joining Bennington, she was an Executive Fellow at the Yale School of Management and the founding President and CEO of New York Public Radio. Under her leadership, New York Public Radio was the recipient of ten George Foster Peabody Awards and was a pioneer in podcasting. She also served as the first Vice President of Development at Sesame Workshop and worked as a producer at NPR and Carnegie Hall and as a print journalist.
Laura’s dedication to education, the arts, and critical inquiry has shaped her career. As a visionary innovator, Laura has led educational and arts content for children and adults and steered civil discourse and fact-based reporting about national and local politics, science, the state of the media, economic and racial disparities, and music. She has spearheaded several acquisitions of media properties and raised more than $1.2 billion dollars in philanthropy.
Laura has won many leadership and community awards. She was honored by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and received the Jacqueline Onassis Medal from the Municipal Arts Society of New York and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2009 and again in 2017, she was named by Crain’s as one of New York City’s 50 Most Powerful Women.
In addition, Laura has served on the boards of educational institutions including Saint Ann’s School, the Educational Development Center, and advisory boards at Yale University and Wesleyan University as well as Tribune Media. She now serves on the boards of the Commonwealth Fund, Eagle Picher Trust, and on the advisory boards of Pathfinder International and Wesleyan University.
Laura holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and received her bachelor’s degree in History magna cum laude from Wesleyan University, where she was an Olin Scholar. She has been married to Bert Wells for almost 35 years and has two (amazing!) adult children. She loves music, theater, opera, biking, and swimming.
President's Working Group on Anti-Racism
In September 2020, President Laura Walker announced the creation of a President’s Working Group. This group was envisioned to comprise approximately 20 students, staff, faculty, alumni, and trustees, to envision a future for Bennington College that is more diverse, more inclusive, and is actively fighting against racism and exploring the intersections with class, gender, and other vectors of identity and positionality. The charge of the group is to develop a plan to realize this vision.
COVID-19 Safety on Campus
Since President Walker took office she has been communicating weekly with the Bennington community regarding COVID-19 safety measures.