Bennington College taps Mariko Silver for president

Friday June 28, 2013


Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Bennington College’s 10th president has held prominent roles at Columbia University and Arizona State University and in the administrations of then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and President Barack Obama.

Dr. Mariko Silver was appointed to succeed outgoing long-time President Elizabeth Coleman, the college announced Thursday.

Alan Kornberg, ‘74, chairman of the college’s board of trustees, said Silver embodied a "new model" for the American college president -- "someone who sees the world not as a set of givens but as a collection of resources to be harnessed."

"She has an extraordinary intellectual and imaginative vitality, an outstanding track record, and a deep commitment to the college’s pedagogic traditions and values." Kornberg continued to say the appointment signaled the college’s ambitions to expand the influence of its founding ideals and contemporary practices in a rapidly changing world "simultaneously fragmented and interconnected, and that is, in every dimension, increasingly complex and global."

Silver said in the release she was honored to lead one of the nation’s most innovative liberal arts colleges.

"Bennington stands as a unique and essential voice in the higher education landscape," she said. Placing students and graduates at the center of what matters, "Bennington is distinctly positioned to engage head-on many of the challenges and opportunities facing higher education in the coming decade."

Silver comes from Arizona State University where she was a senior advisor to President Michael Crow and a key strategist in "one of the most radical redesigns in higher learning since the origins of the modern university," according to an article in Newsweek.

At ASU, Silver led campus, community, and international initiatives focused on student engagement and accomplishment, science, and economic development. She also served as professor of practice in the college’s School of Politics and Global Studies.

Crow called Silver’s ability to build programs and projects with faculty, university leadership, and community stakeholders "extraordinary."

"Strategic, visionary, collaborative, Mariko is an innovative thinker steeped in the challenges and opportunities for organizational change in higher education and an outstanding choice to lead Bennington into the future," he continued.

Silver previously served in the Obama administration as acting assistant secretary for international affairs and deputy assistant secretary for international policy of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Prior to that, she served as policy advisor to Napolitano during the latter’s time as governor.

Now secretary of homeland security, Napolitano said Silver has the "ability to develop and advance big ideas."

Silver holds a bachelor’s in History from Yale University, a master’s in Science and Technology Policy from the United Kingdom’s University of Sussex, and a doctorate in Economic Geography from the University of California at Los Angeles.

She and her husband, musician Thom Loubet, have one child.

Silver succeeds Coleman, who retires at the end of the month after a 25-year tenure as president. Coleman will continue to be on campus as director of the college’s Center for the Advancement of Public Action through June 2015.

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