S. Georgia Nugent, Ph.D., president emerita of Kenyon College, will lead Illinois
Wesleyan University as the institution’s 20th president.
Nugent, who joined the University as interim president in August of 2019, becomes
the first woman to serve as President of Illinois Wesleyan. The Board of Trustees
announced her appointment on Nov. 14, 2019.
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.
Before beginning her 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
Nugent later served as interim president at The College of Wooster during the 2015-16
academic year and is currently a senior fellow at the Council of Independent Colleges
As president of Kenyon from 2003 to 2013, Nugent focused on strengthening the college’s
core academic values while launching new programs in Islamic culture and Latino studies,
and the Center for the Study of American Democracy. During Nugent’s tenure at Kenyon,
funding for faculty research was increased, new endowed professorships were created
in anthropology, drama, economics, English, and international studies, and new hires
increased the diversity of the faculty as a whole. Additionally, enrollment grew slightly
and the College held its top-35 ranking among national liberal arts colleges, according
to U.S. News and World Report.
A first-generation college student herself, Nugent took a personal interest in the
goal of increasing financial aid to make a Kenyon education affordable for talented
students regardless of their socioeconomic background. Under Nugent’s leadership,
the "We Are Kenyon" campaign, which raised more than $240 million, brought in $60
million in new endowment dollars for financial aid, doubling endowment funds for that
purpose. Kenyon is a highly selective, nationally recognized private liberal arts
institution with an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1,700.
As a senior fellow at the CIC, Nugent has helped design, develop and oversee a public
information campaign advocating for the value of a liberal arts education. The national,
multi-pronged initiative directed attention to the compelling evidence that smaller
independent colleges produce graduates who are among the best prepared for success
in their personal, career, and community lives. Nugent remains a senior fellow and
will continue to assist with some CIC projects, as an advocate for the value of liberal
arts education, while serving as Illinois Wesleyan's president.
As a scholar, Nugent specializes in epic poetry and Greek tragedy. She has numerous
articles and presentations to her credit, as well as a book on allegory. Nugent has
also shared her nationally respected higher education insight as a contributing writer for Inside Higher Ed.