Carnegie Corporation of New York Announces Inaugural $1.5 Million Academic Leadership Awards

Grantees in this story


Today, Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, announced the recipients of the Corporation's newly established Academic Leadership Award. The award recognizes leaders of institutions of higher education who have demonstrated an abiding commitment to liberal arts and who have initiated and supported curricular innovations, including development of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs that aim to bridge the gulf between the theoretical and the practical. In addition, the award honors leadership that actively supports K-12 school reform and emphasizes community outreach. 

This year, three presidents of major universities have been singled out for the Academic Leadership Award. They are Jared L. Cohon of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Henry S. Bienen of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; and Don M. Randel of the University of Chicago, Illinois. Each of these leaders will receive $500,000 to be used for their academic priorities.

"These academic leaders have been articulate voices in defense of liberal arts, robust undergraduate education, the university's role in K-12 education and the university's commitment to their cities and communities," said Gregorian in making the awards. "All three have demonstrated the fact that excellence in leadership is much more than effective management. They all believe in a tradition of academic excellence and have proven that presidential leadership and faculty quality are the critical elements that distinguish one university from another."

The new Academic Leadership Award is not simply an award: it is also an investment in leadership by the Corporation and builds on the foundation's long tradition of developing and recognizing leadership in higher education. In the Carnegie Quarterly of April 1959, published during the presidency of John Gardner, the strength of the Corporation's grants program was described as seeking to be "as responsive as possible to the expressed concerns of college and university leaders" and to "lend itself to the kinds of giving which will strengthen the institution in terms which the president considers necessary." The reestablishment of this award for academic leadership renews and continues a Carnegie Corporation higher education tradition. The Academic Leadership Award will be given periodically. The selection process is initiated by the Corporation and does not depend on external nominators or recommendations.

Examples of some of the initiatives underway at the three universities are:

Northwestern University has invigorated undergraduate education by connecting practical experience with ideas. For example, social policy students work with policymakers to connect the theory and practice of organizational change; mathematics and computer science students work with a design firm to produce computer applications; the university works with public schools in Detroit and Chicago, applying information technology to enhance student learning. In addition, the schools of business, engineering and education are working cooperatively on a multidisciplinary program that provides training for school principals and superintendents.

Student learning at the University of Chicago has been enhanced through a commitment to undergraduate research. The university has developed multiple innovative programs, including an effort to advance K-12 school reform in Chicago and a unique school-community-university network. In addition, the university has developed a program in Islam and international security policy issues, along with scores of other innovative multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary undertakings.

Carnegie Mellon University has integrated academic and co-curricular experiences; in fact, its national emphasis on engineering and technology, which has developed in concert with the humanities, has received national attention. Not only has Carnegie Mellon emphasized scientific advancement in terms of theory but also in a way that stimulates student research projects. Various initiatives include a "living roof," which was designed by an undergraduate who also oversaw its construction. The roof is both environmentally elegant and moderates the temperature in the building over all seasons. An educational focus on environmental literacy for all students has been inculcated into the culture of the university, which has shifted faculty values and culture in support of undergraduate education and there is now a problem-solving, reflective practitioner's approach to undergraduate education. Clearly, the university proves that integration of campus intellectual centers can enhance the entire institution.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in the world." The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $1.9 billon on September 30, 2004. The Corporation awards grants totaling approximately $80 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development and strengthening U.S. democracy.