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Sheahon Zenger Named Illinois Wesleyan's 21st President

After a national search, Dr. Sheahon J. Zenger has been named the 21st president of Illinois Wesleyan University, effective July 1, 2024. Zenger will succeed President S. Georgia Nugent, who is stepping down Aug. 1 after five years at the helm. Read more.


S. Georgia Nugent

Georgia Nugent
S. Georgia Nugent

S. Georgia Nugent, Ph.D., leads Illinois Wesleyan University as the institution’s 20th president. 

Nugent, who joined IWU as interim president in August of 2019, was named to the official role by the Board of Trustees on Nov. 14, 2019. She is the first woman to serve as the University's president. 

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 a decade-long presidency at Kenyon College, 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.

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 past senior fellow at the Council of Independent Colleges, Nugent 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. 

In 2021, Nugent was elected to a two-year term as president of Associated Colleges of Illinois, a network of private, nonprofit residential colleges and universities. ACI supports member colleges and universities by advancing independent liberal arts and sciences education and helping underserved students succeed in college, career and life.

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.