Dr. David Maxwell

Biographical Summary

David Maxwell, Ph.D., has been president of Drake University since May of 1999, and holds a faculty appointment as Professor of Literature. He was director of the National Foreign Language Center in Washington DC from 1993 to 1999, after serving as president of Whitman College from 1989 to 1993. Dr. Maxwell was at Tufts University from 1971 to 1989 as a faculty member in Russian language and literature, and served as Dean of Undergraduate Studies from 1981-89.

Born in New York City, Dr. Maxwell earned his bachelor’s degree in Russian area studies from Grinnell College in 1966. He received his master’s and doctorate degrees in Slavic languages and literatures from Brown University, in 1968 and 1974, respectively.

At Brown, Dr. Maxwell was a Brown University Fellow and subsequently a National Defense Education Act Fellow. He was a Fulbright Fellow (Moscow), and at Tufts received the Lillian Leibner Award for distinguished teaching and advising. At Tufts he also twice received the Senior Class Citation for Distinguished Service. In 1991 the Brown University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences awarded him the Distinguished Alumnus Citation. In his former life an internationally published scholar on the prose of Anton Chekhov, President Maxwell currently contributes articles and essays to national higher education publications.

President Maxwell serves on the Community Board of the Wells Fargo Bank, Iowa, the Implementation Committee of the Capital Crossroads initiative and is a member of the Greater Des Moines Committee. He is a member of the board of the Downtown Community Alliance, and co-chair of a sub-committee of the Human Capital Implementation Committee of Capital Crossroads. He is a past member of the Board of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, past President of the Des Moines Higher Education Collaborative, past chair of the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, and of the Missouri Valley Conference.

On the national level, Dr. Maxwell is a member of the Executive Committee of the Business/Higher Education Forum, and past chair of The New American Colleges and Universities. Dr. Maxwell sits on the Boards of Directors of the American Council on Education (ACE), the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), and the National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities (NAICU). He is a member of the Higher Education Working Group on Global Issues of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Leadership Council of AAC&U’s “Liberal Education for America’s Promise” Initiative. In addition, he serves on the editorial board of Peer Review, and completed a term on the Commission on Effective Leadership of the American Council on Education. Dr. Maxwell is also a member of the Council on Competitiveness.

In 2011, Dr. Maxwell received the Chief Executive Leadership Award from District VI, Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In 2012, he received the A. Arthur Davis Distinguished Community Leadership Award from the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award from Character Counts in Iowa, and the President’s Award from Region IV-East of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). In 2014, Dr. Maxwell was the first college/university president to be inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame.

In May 2011, Dr. Maxwell summited Mt. Kilimanjaro with his two sons and members of the Drake University football team.

Dr. Maxwell is married to Madeleine Mali Maxwell, formerly a creative director. They are the parents of Justin, a user experience guru in Silicon Valley, and Stephen, a physicist at national laboratory.

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University News
March 24, 2017
Vote Smart, one of the nation's leading sources of non-partisan political information, will formally celebrate the organization's move to Drake University next month.