President Elizabeth Coleman, 1987-2013

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President Elizabeth Coleman served as the ninth president of Bennington College from July 1987–June 2013. Following her graduation with honors from the University of Chicago, where she was a Ford Foundation Scholar, she completed her master’s degree in English and American Literature at Cornell University, where she was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. She received her PhD with distinction at Columbia, where she was a Woodbridge and President’s Fellow. She has worked in education since that time, first as a professor of literature at SUNY-Stony Brook and then at the New School for Social Research, where she founded and served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Coleman’s vision of a liberal arts education has been recognized nationally by her place on the Select Committee of the Association of American Colleges and the board of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation; she also has served on the Council for a Community of Democracies, the Board of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Annapolis Group, an organization of leading independent liberal arts colleges, and as chair of the Vermont Rhodes Scholarship Trust. She has been a consultant to the Annenberg Corporation on a public broadcasting project and a visiting fellow at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, the Board of Directors of the Neurosciences Institute, the Committee for Economic Development, and the Council of Advisors for the European College of Liberal Arts. In February 2009, she delivered the closing speech at the 25th Anniversary TED Conference in Long Beach, CA, entitled “Engage.” She also gave the keynote address at the Artes Liberales General Conference in Warsaw in 2000 on “The Relationship between Liberal Education, Freedom and Democracy”, at the Getty Museum on “Art, Artists and the Challenge of Liberal Education,” and on “What Matters” at the Council of World Affairs Conference in 2011. Coleman has been awarded honorary degrees from the University of Vermont, Hofstra University, and The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA).


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