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 Kenyon.
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 (CIC).
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, 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. While serving as interim president, Nugent will remain a senior fellow and will continue to assist with some CIC projects. 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.