BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — President S. Georgia Nugent was recognized for her resolute leadership by the Illinois Wesleyan University Board of Trustees as she concludes her tenure as the University’s 20th president. 

At the May 17 Board of Trustees meeting, board chair Timothy J. Szerlong '74 commended Nugent for her efforts to navigate IWU through challenges and celebrations with “great integrity and constant pursuit of excellence.”

Georgia Nugent laughing at employee recognition luncheon
S. Georgia Nugent has served as the 20th president of IWU since 2019.

“You have been a passionate champion for IWU and have left an indelible imprint in shaping our future through your ability to make difficult but necessary decisions with an unwavering commitment to shaping a contemporary liberal arts experience for today’s and tomorrow’s students,” said Szerlong in a proclamation. 

The board noted several milestones reached with Nugent at the helm, such as the establishment the School of Business & Economics and the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, the dedication of the Greg Yess '82 Bloomberg Finance Lab, the appointment of the University's first Cabinet-level diversity officer, major renovations in residence halls, new articulation agreements with community colleges and the addition of several intercollegiate sports and academic programs. Nugent was also recognized for her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring minimal disruption to the University. 

As the first female president of Illinois Wesleyan, Nugent joined IWU as the interim president in August 2019 and accepted the permanent position in November that year.

A widely published scholar of the classics and of higher education, Nugent earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a doctorate from Cornell University as a first-generation college student. Before beginning a decade-long presidency at Kenyon, Nugent served at Princeton as assistant to the president, associate provost, and dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and as professor of classics at Princeton and Brown universities. She also taught on the classics faculties of Cornell as well as Swarthmore College and Kenyon. Nugent later served as interim president at The College of Wooster during the 2015-16 academic year.

Nugent announced her decision to step down from IWU's presidency in fall of 2023. After a nationwide search, Sheahon Zenger was selected as the next leader of Illinois Wesleyan, effective July 1.