After 25 years of service as a professor and
administrator at the University of Maryland, College Park and following a
national search, Dr. William English Kirwan was appointed president of the
university on February 1, 1989. He served as acting president of the
university from August 1, 1988, until the time of his appointment as
WILLIAM E. KIRWAN
President, University of Maryland, College Park
Dr. Kirwan joined the university in 1964 as an assistant
professor of mathematics. He rose through the faculty ranks as associate
professor (1968-1972), professor (1972-present), and chair of the
Department of Mathematics (1977-1981).
In 1981, he was appointed vice chancellor for academic
affairs, College Park's chief academic post. As vice chancellor, Dr.
Kirwan raised admission standards, increased the number of merit
scholarships and graduate fellowships, and established an academic
During his tenure as president of the university, Dr.
Kirwan has played a pivotal role in all of the university's most
significant initiatives, including: an increased emphasis on undergraduate
education; selective enhancement of academic programs; recr uitment and
retention of distinguished faculty; achievement of diversity goals for
underrepresented minorities; and the successful completion of the
university's first capital campaign.
Dr. Kirwan is known for his ability to see beyond the
institution's day-to-day problems, and for his talent as a consensus
builder among the large and diverse campus community. Under his
leadership, the university undertook a major restructuring of its a
cademic organization, going from a divisional system to a more traditional
system of colleges and schools. Subsequently, when the state's economic
decline forced a reduction of this university's budget, he oversaw a
streamlining of the university's acade mic offerings through the
elimination of a college, seven departments, and 32 degree programs.
Dr. Kirwan is a member of various honorary and
professional societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, the
American Mathematical Society, and the Mathematical Association of
America. He is the co-editor of the book Advances in Complex Analysis,
and the author of many published articles on mathematical research. He
served as an editor of the Proceedings of the American Mathematical
Society from 1977 to 1985. He chaired the Mathematical Sciences in the
Year 2000 Committee, a task force created by the National Research Council
(NRC) to improve mathematics education at the nation's colleges and
universities during the next decade, and he was a charter member of NRC's
Committee on Undergraduate Science Education.
Dr. Kirwan is a member of numerous boards, including the
Presidents Council of the Ford Foundation, the Board of Directors of the
American Association of Colleges and Universities, the Council for
International Exchange of Scholars (the Fulbright Program), the World
Trade Center Institute, the Baltimore Council of Foreign Affairs, the
Greater Washington Board of Trade, and the Suburban Maryland High Tech
Council. He was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the
National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges
(NASULGC), and to the Presidents Commission of the National Collegiate
Athletic Association (NCAA). He also is past chair of the NASULGC's
Commission on Oceans and Atmosphere.
Among other volunteer activities in the community, Dr.
Kirwan chairs the Prince George's County Board of Education's Citizens
Advisory Committee, and chaired the County's 1996 United Way Campaign. He
also serves on the Board of Directors of the Maryland Citizens for the
Because of his contributions to higher education, he was
named Officer in the Order of Leopold II by the Belgium Government and
elected to the University of Kentucky's Hall of Distinguished Alumni. He
recently received the World Trade Center Institutešs prestigious
Governor's Award as the State's International Leader of the Year.
Noted for his enormous energy and long work days, Dr.
Kirwan regularly finds time to teach an undergraduate class. Whenever
possible, he schedules time to enjoy classical music concerts and tries to
find an hour or two each week to escape to a convenient tennis court where
he is known as a very competitive tennis player.
Dr. Kirwan is married to Patricia Harper of Lexington,
Kentucky. They have two children: a son, William E. Kirwan III, a
Washington architect who earned his baccalaureate and master's degrees
from the university, and a daughter, Ann Elizabeth, who also graduated
from the university with a degree in journalism.
Updated - February 17, 1997