From the President

Invitation to Meet with Dr. David Maxwell of AGB regarding Shared Governance—February 12, 2021

The following message was sent to Students and Staff on February 12, 2021. 

Dear Bennington Community, 

As part of our campus-wide work around shared governance, we’d like to invite you to engage with Dr. David Maxwell, a Senior Consultant with The Association of Governing Boards (AGB) at a virtual event. 

The purpose of this event will be for David to listen and answer any questions you have for him. We know a group of you have been exploring student government for some time, and we really hope you can be a part of this discussion. David is very eager to hear your valuable perspectives and experiences with governance at Bennington. We will soon be inviting all staff to a similar listening session as well, and faculty have already met with him.

Shortly after this meeting, we will send all students, faculty, and staff a survey we created around shared governance at Bennington. The results will be key in helping us to better understand each constituency's perspectives and feedback on this important subject for the College.

I have included Dr. Maxwell’s bio below so that you may learn more about his background.



Dr. David Maxwell | Biographical Summary

David Maxwell served as president of Drake University from May of 1999 through June 2015 and held a faculty appointment as Professor of Literature. He was awarded the title of President emeritus by the Drake Board of Trustees upon his retirement. He was director of the National Foreign Language Center in Washington DC from 1993 to 1999, after serving as president of Whitman College from 1989 to 1993. Dr. Maxwell was at Tufts University from 1971 to 1989 as a faculty member in Russian language and literature (chairing both the Program in Russian and the Soviet & East European Area Program) and served as Dean of Undergraduate Studies from 1981-89.

Since June 2015 Dr. Maxwell has been a Senior Fellow of the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) and a member of AGB’s consulting practice. He is also co-ambassador (facilitator) for AGB’s Council of Board Chairs.

Dr. Maxwell earned his bachelor’s degree in Russian area studies from Grinnell College in 1966. He was a participant in the Critical Languages Program at Princeton University in 1964-65. Dr. Maxwell received his master’s and doctorate degrees in Slavic languages and literatures from Brown University, in 1968 and 1974, respectively. He was a Fulbright Fellow in Moscow, U.S.S.R. in 1970-71.

Dr. Maxwell was a member of the Executive Committee of the Business/Higher Education Forum (BHEF) from 2004 until his retirement and is currently an emeritus member of BHEF. He has served on the Boards of Directors of the American Council on Education (ACE), the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), and the National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities (NAICU). He is the past chair of the Board of Directors of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Dr. Maxwell is a member of the National Leadership Council of AAC&U’s “Liberal Education for America’s Promise” Initiative. He is a member of the Iowa Advisory Council of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Dr. Maxwell has served on the Grinnell College Board of Trustees since June 2016 and was elected for a two-year term as chair in May 2019.

An internationally published scholar on the prose of Russian writer Anton Chekhov during his faculty career, Dr. Maxwell writes on higher education issues for professional journals and other media outlets. As a senior administrator, he has had significant experience in a broad range of areas that include: program review and prioritization; institutional change; strategic planning; shared governance and board development; resource allocation and prioritization; internationalization and globalization; integration of liberal arts education with preparation for careers; fundraising, community relations and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Dr. Maxwell’s work with the Association of Governing Board as a Senior Fellow and member of AGB’s consulting practice has included: board assessment and development; improving board effectiveness; the policies and practices of shared governance; board and presidential leadership; bylaws and policies review and revision; committee roles and structures, and; campus climate and diversity.

In 2011, Dr. Maxwell received the Chief Executive Leadership Award from District VI, Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In 2012, he received the A. Arthur Davis Distinguished Community Leadership Award from the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award from Character Counts in Iowa, and the President’s Award from Region IV-East of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). In 2014, Dr. Maxwell was the first college/university president inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was named the “Person of the Year” by the Chinese Association of Iowa and received the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award.

In May 2011, Dr. Maxwell summited Mt. Kilimanjaro with his two sons and members of the Drake University football team.