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2009 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award Honors Bard College President Leon Botstein

Award Carries $500,000 Grant to Bard College

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Bard College President Leon Botstein has received the 2009 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award, announced Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The Carnegie Corporation Board of Trustees awards recipients $500,000 to be used, at the leader's own discretion, toward academic priorities at his or her respective institution. Other recipients of this year’s four awards are Scott Cowen, president of Tulane University; Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania; and William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

The award recognizes presidents and chancellors who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in undergraduate education, both teaching and research; the development of major interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs that bridge the gulf between the theoretical and the practical; outreach to local communities and cooperation with business, education, and civic leaders on initiatives such as K-12 school reform; and the expansion and improvement of international initiatives and global engagement.

“Each of these leaders has an academic vision focused on a commitment to excellence.  They all see the university as an integral part of their communities, and view the health of K-12 education as central to the future of higher education,” said Vartan Gregorian. 
“At a time when resources are scarce, we hope these awards will allow outstanding leaders to maintain the momentum of their most critical and innovative educational initiatives,” Gregorian added.

Charles P. Stevenson Jr., chair of Bard’s Board of Trustees, said, “The recognition is well deserved. Under Leon Botstein's guidance, Bard College's innovative programs are challenging the well-endowed educational giants much in the same way that Apple/Mac's innovations are challenging and changing the Microsoft/Windows world.”

Leon Botstein has long been a voice for innovation in American higher education. Since his arrival at Bard in 1975, at which time he was the youngest college president in the United States, he has been a passionate and active proponent of the liberal arts education as well as the power of the college to affect positive change, not only for its students, but also for its local community and the world at large.

From creative curricular improvements to major infrastructure projects, President Botstein has led Bard to become one of the nation’s leading colleges of the liberal arts and sciences. The student body has more than doubled during his tenure, and he has introduced many academic innovations, such as collaborations with Rockefeller University and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies to bolster the teaching of science, the Learning and Thinking Program for matriculating students, and The Bard Conservatory of Music, the only conservatory in the nation with a required dual-degree curriculum in both music and an academic subject.

Nurturing leadership and community service initiatives among Bard students has been a strong element of his tenure, as evidenced by the success of initiatives springing from the Trustee Leadership Scholar program, notably the Bard Prison Initiative, which offers men and women in several New York State correctional institutions the opportunity to earn Bard B.A. degrees, and the New Orleans Initiative, which has created college preparatory courses in several of the city’s disadvantaged public schools.

He has fostered the creation of graduate programs and institutes, such as the Levy Economics Institute, Bard Graduate Center, Center for Curatorial Studies and Hessel Museum of Art, Conductor’s Institute, and Center for Environmental Policy, which have not only succeeded in their own rights but have also enriched the intellectual lives of Bard’s undergraduate students.

President Botstein has been a pioneer in linking higher education to public secondary schools. The author of Jefferson’s Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture, he was the guiding force behind the creation of Bard High School Early College (BHSEC), an innovative high school-early college program run with the City of New York. BHSEC, now comprising two schools in Manhattan and Queens, offers highly motivated students a chance to complete high school and two years of college within four years. Both schools are tuition-free and mirror the city's economic and racial diversity. In addition, Bard's Master of Arts in Teaching program, which President Botstein established, places apprentice teachers in New York City's high-needs public schools.

He guided the creation of notable international education programs, including the Al-Quds Bard Partnership, the first-ever collaboration between a Palestinian and a U.S. institution of higher education to offer dual-degree programs, and Smolny College, post-Soviet Russia's first liberal arts college. Bard’s Program in International Education brings students from emerging democracies to Bard to experience the liberal arts education and offers intensive exchange programs worldwide.

President Botstein is also music director and conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the radio orchestra of Israel. His recording of the music of Popov and Shostakovich, with the London Symphony Orchestra, was nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award. In 1990 he founded the Bard Music Festival (BMF), which has grown into an internationally recognized multidisciplinary performing arts festival. The festival takes place in the Frank Gehry–designed Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, which also serves as home to the drama and dance departments of the college. Dedicated to exploring composers throughout history, particularly in giving life to their neglected and rarely performed works, the BMF, SummerScape Festival, and Bard’s year-round performing arts programs are a rich resource for everyone from local community members to international scholars.

The Academic Leadership Award, established in 2005, is an investment in leadership by Carnegie Corporation that 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 establishment of this award for academic leadership renews and continues a Carnegie Corporation higher education tradition.

Previous winners are Henry S. Bienen, President of Northwestern University (2005); Jared Cohon, President of Carnegie Mellon University (2005); Don Randel, then President of the University of Chicago (2005); Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor of the City University of New York (2007); Robert J. Birgeneau, Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley (2008); and Nancy Cantor, Chancellor and President of Syracuse University (2008). While the leaders of many universities have been honored through this prestigious program, Bard is the first college to have been honored for its leadership.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding."

September 21, 2009

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This event was last updated on 09-21-2009