Chancellor William E. Kirwan Biography

William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland since August 1, 2002, is a nationally recognized authority on critical issues shaping the higher education landscape. He served as president of Ohio State University for four years (1998-2002) and president of the University of Maryland, College Park for 10 years (1988-1998). Prior to his presidency, he was a member of the University of Maryland faculty for 24 years.

A respected academic leader, Dr. Kirwan is a sought-after speaker on a wide range of topics, including access and affordability, cost containment, diversity, innovation, higher education's role in economic development, and academic transformation. Along with his national and international presentations on key issues, Dr. Kirwan has authored many articles on issues in higher education and has been profiled and cited in academic and mainstream publications. In March 2013, he delivered the prestigious Robert H. Atwell Lecture at the 95th annual meeting of the American Council on Education.

Currently, Dr. Kirwan chairs the National Research Council Board of Higher Education and Workforce and co-chairs the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. He also serves on the Business-Higher Education Forum.

In Maryland, Dr. Kirwan is a member of the boards of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Greater Baltimore Committee, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, and other organizations.

Among Dr. Kirwan's many honors is the 2010 TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence. Considered one of the nation's top higher education honors, this award recognizes leadership and commitment to higher education and contributions to the greater good.

In 2009, he received the Carnegie Corporation Leadership Award, which included a $500,000 grant to fund USM academic priorities. The prestigious award recognizes higher education leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in several areas, including undergraduate education (teaching and research) and outreach to communities.

Among his several recent honors and awards are the:

  • 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in Education, Tech Council of Maryland
  • 2014 Champion of Children Award, Maryland State Department of Education
  • 2014 Regional Visionary Award, Greater Baltimore Committee
  • 2012 Public Service Award, Maryland Chamber of Commerce

In 2007, Dr. Kirwan became the 16th recipient of the Maryland House of Delegates Speakers' Medallion in recognition of his service to the House and to the State of Maryland. He also received the Maryland Senate's First Citizen Award in 1998, in recognition of his commitment and service to the state.

Other awards include the 2008 Reginald H. Jones Distinguished Service Award from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME). The award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to increasing the representation of minorities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers.

In 2002, Dr. Kirwan was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a member of several honorary and professional societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, the American Mathematical Society, and the Mathematical Association of America. A prolific scholar, he is co-editor of the book Advances in Complex Analysis and has published many articles on mathematical research.

Dr. Kirwan received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Kentucky and his master's and doctoral degrees in mathematics from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in 1962 and 1964 respectively.