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Dr. David Maxwell

Biographical Summary

David Maxwell, PhD, was president of Drake University from 1999 to 2015, and held a faculty appointment as Professor of Literature. He was director of the National Foreign Language Center in Washington, D.C., 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 to 1989.

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.

During his time at Drake, President Maxwell served on the Community Board of the Wells Fargo Bank, Iowa, the Implementation Committee of the Capital Crossroads initiative, and was a member of the Greater Des Moines Committee. He was 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 served as past chair of The New American Colleges and Universities, sat 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 was also a member of the Higher Education Working Group on Global Issues of the Council on Foreign Relations, and completed a term on the Commission on Effective Leadership of the American Council on Education. Dr. Maxwell was 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 currently a Senior Fellow for the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) and a member of AGB's consulting practice. He is an emeritus member of the Executive Committee of the Business/Higher Education forum, sits on the executive committee of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation, and serves on the editorial board for Peer Review. Dr. Maxwell has continued his service on the National Leadership Council of AAC&U’s “Liberal Education for America’s Promise” Initiative, and is a member of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees.

He 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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