IU East to award IU honorary degree to Douglas C. Bennett

Indiana University East will award an Indiana University honorary degree during its 40th Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 13, at the Richmond High School Tiernan Center. The honorary degree will recognize the exceptional service to higher education that has been at the heart of the career of Earlham College President Douglas C. Bennett, Ph.D.

IU East will confer an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Bennett during the commencement ceremony.

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie will confer five honorary degrees during the upcoming university-wide commencement season, which runs this year from May 6 to May 15.

The honorary degree, the highest academic recognition Indiana University can bestow, is awarded to individuals who demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity and sincere concern for the public good. In addition, candidates for the honorary degree generally have significant ties to the state of Indiana or to Indiana University. Through this high honor, IU seeks to honor individuals who may serve as role models for students, faculty, alumni and the people of the state of Indiana.

Bennett, retiring in June 2011, has served eastern Indiana with the highest distinction during his 14 years as Earlham College President and professor of Politics. He joined Earlham College in July 1997.

Chancellor Nasser Paydar said he has been grateful for Bennett’s counsel and collaboration since he became chancellor at IU East in 2007. Bennett has served on the IU East Board of Advisors, which has had an integral role as IU East has reached unprecedented levels of growth and success.

“Doug has worked in partnership with others and lifted the educational horizons of the communities in eastern Indiana and western Ohio. Now, more than ever, our state and region need graduates of our institutions, ready to transform society. Doug has taken Earlham College to new heights in order to achieve this,” Paydar said.

IU East’s 2011 Commencement is the 40th in the history of the campus. When IU East was founded in 1971, it began in Carpenter Hall on the campus of Earlham College.

“In addition to recognizing Doug’s enormous achievements throughout his professional career, the honorary degree will also be quite meaningful in reflecting on our campus’ beginnings at Earlham College and our wonderful partnership over these 40 years which has benefitted area residents,” Paydar said.

Bennett’s service to the Richmond community and the state of Indiana is characterized by his concern for public good and his outstanding accomplishments. Bennett has actively demonstrated the high standards of excellence in creative activity and scholarship valued by IU East and IU.  He is a leader in scholarship and academic activity, contributing to the higher education field through scholarly publications such as The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed and his regularly published blog, The Observatory, in which he shares his insights on issues of access, assessment and accountability.

Throughout his term as president at Earlham College, Bennett has volunteered his time and expertise to academic boards and advisory committees within the state of Indiana and nationally. He has chaired the National Advisory Board for the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and Board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He has been on the Haverford College board of managers and committees; American Friends Service Committee; and several volunteer committees and programs with Quaker Schools and Independent Schools.

Bennett has served as an advisor for the Executive Committee of the New York Metropolitan Regional Office, the National Community Relations Committee, and the Latin America Panel of the International Division. Locally, he has served on the IU East Board of Advisors and the City of Richmond Council on Economic Vitality.

Known as one of the most distinctive speakers on issues related to higher education, Bennett is a prominent source for national media including USA Today, CNN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, and the Washington Post, on issues facing higher education. Bennett’s areas of expertise are vast and include accountability, assessment, college rankings, NCAA Division III Athletics, leadership, and Quaker education.

“Suffice it to say that his leadership abilities have been a great asset to many aspects of the community, of which IU East has been just one beneficiary,” said Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Larry Richards. “He is an instigator, taking on the role of jolting people out of their current and comfortable ways of thinking, trying to get them to think out of the box.”