Press Release - USM Names New Chancellor

March 25, 2002


Nathan A. Chapman, Jr., Chairman of the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents, today announced the appointment of William English (Brit) Kirwan as USM Chancellor, effective August 1, 2002.  Kirwan is currently President of Ohio State University and was President of the University of Maryland, College Park from 1989 to 1998.


Kirwan will succeed Donald N. Langenberg, who will retire on April 30, 2002, after nearly 12 years as chancellor of the System.  An 18-member search committee, comprising USM regents, faculty, staff and students, and prestigious business and community leaders conducted an extensive national search before recommending three highly qualified individuals for the Regents' consideration.  The Board unanimously selected Kirwan for the post.

Chapman, in announcing Kirwan's return to Maryland as the System head, said, "Brit is the ideal choice to take over the reins of the System. He is recognized as a national leader and true champion of higher education.  He knows the USM and has longstanding family and community ties in Maryland.  We view him as a native son returning home."

Parris N. Glendening, Governor of Maryland, enthusiastically endorsed the Regents' decision saying, "His [Kirwan's] tested leadership and long standing commitment to higher education are renowned.  There is no one who could be a more effective, more respected chancellor than Brit Kirwan." 

During Kirwan's tenure as the president of UMCP, the number of freshman with SAT scores of 1400 and above increased from 49 to 342; the average SAT scores of all freshmen increased from 1057 to 1199; the number of National Academy of Sciences members among the faculty grew from 1 to 17; sponsored research nearly doubled from $82 million to $155 million; annual private funds raised went from $14 million to over $65 million; and the university's endowment reached $158 million from $36 million in 1988.  Ohio State University has experienced similar increases during Kirwan's presidency of that university.   He led a fund raising campaign that succeeded in raising $1.23 billion, making Ohio State only the third public university to raise in excess of $1 billion in a single campaign.  During his tenure, the average ACT scores of entering students has increased almost 30% and, over the past two years, sponsored research at Ohio State has increased 35%.

Continued Chapman,"Brit will bring to the chancellor's position the same enthusiasm, intellect, and leadership skills that made him such a success as president of the University of Maryland, College Park and Ohio State University."

Commenting on his return to Maryland, Kirwan said, "I firmly believe that one can go home again.  In some ways Patty and I have never left Maryland since our children and grandchildren and so many life long friends live here.

"It's a great honor and privilege to be asked to lead a System comprised of such diverse and wonderful institutions.  When the System was formed in 1988, I was involved in the deliberations with my counterpart presidents at the other public universities about the structure and role of the System. During my nine years as president of the University of Maryland at College Park, I gained the highest regard for the presidents leading the System institutions and for the distinct and complementary roles these 13 institutions play.  I look forward to working with the presidents and the Regents as together we build the nation's finest university system, one that is responsive to the needs of the state and meets the highest expectations for its performance."

Catherine Gira, president of Frostburg State University, chair of the USM Council of System Presidents, and a member of the search committee, stated, "Although he was not a candidate, the committee sought his advice about the position.  The committee was impressed with Brit's understanding and support of the System. His grasp of the role of the Chancellor in the political and social structure of Maryland, his personal style and integrity, his knowledge of the state and of the importance of higher education in this state...all these characteristics convinced the committee that he has the skill and talent to lead the System."

Kirwan has been very active in community affairs, having served on the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Washington Board of Trade and as co-chair of the Potomac Conference, among other groups, when in Maryland.  In Ohio, Kirwan has served as the chair of the Inter-University Council in Ohio and was the founding chair of the Columbus Technology Leadership Council.  He co-chairs the Joint Council of the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Board of Regents and is a member of the Higher Education Council of Columbus as well as a member of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the boards of the Columbus Technology Leadership Council, Children's Hospital of Columbus, Columbus School for Girls, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and United Way of Franklin County.

A native of Kentucky, Kirwan holds a Ph.D and a master's degree from Rutgers University; he has a bachelor's degree from University of Kentucky. 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. He is co-editor of the book Advances in Complex Analysis.  He serves on the boards of directors of the American Council on Education (ACE) and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC).  He is chair of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and co-chair of the Business-Higher Education Forum's Diversity Initiative Task Force.

He grew up on the University of Kentucky campus where his father was dean of students, graduate dean and president of the university.  Kirwan is married to Patricia Harper Kirwan; his two children, William E. Kirwan III and Ann Kirwan Horton, are alumni of the University of Maryland, College Park; he has two grandchildren.

The University System of Maryland enrolls over 120,000 students, employs over 10,000 faculty members, and has an operating budget of $2.5 billion. There are thirteen institutions within the System, 11 degree-granting and two research institutes.  It is governed by a 17-member Board of Regents.  Kirwan will be the third Chancellor of the System, succeeding Langenberg and John Toll, currently president of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.


USM - Francis Canavan
(301) 445-2722
Ohio State University
Lee Tashjian
(614) 292-2996