Mar. 31, 2016

Richard Ekman, President of the Council of Independent Colleges


Richard Ekman, PhD, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, will be the 2016 commencement speaker for St. Edward's University.

Ekman grew up in Connecticut, where he found himself fascinated by the rich history that surrounded him. That fascination led him to Harvard University, where he earned a bachelor's degree and doctorate in the history of American civilization.

While he was working on his PhD and becoming an expert on the Great Awakening of the 1740s, Dr. Ekman will tell you he “was hooked” by an entirely different field of study — teaching effectiveness and curriculum research.

He went on to become vice president and dean of Hiram College, a liberal arts institution in Hiram, Ohio, where he also taught as a tenured history professor. As he successfully balanced his roles as both a faculty member and administrator, he began to realize his strength and passion for curriculum development and change. He left the college classroom behind in 1982, joining the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 1991, and finally the Council of Independent Colleges in 2000.

As president of the Council of Independent Colleges, Dr. Ekman has worked tirelessly to combat the myths that private, liberal arts colleges cater to an elite student population, that they are not affordable, and that liberal arts degrees are not viable in the workplace. As he wrote in a compelling open letter to the President of the United States, “Each of these myths is demonstrably false.” In fact, he continued, “It’s this distinctively American form of education — with room for questioning, discussion, creativity, interpersonal dynamics and supportive faculty — that has made American colleges and universities the envy of the world and widely imitated.”

In recognition of lifetime achievements that include strengthening and supporting independent colleges and universities so that they can provide powerful educational opportunities for all students, regardless of belief or background, St. Edward’s University is proud to proclaim Dr. Richard Ekman Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Graduation events

May 5: 

Undergraduate practice

4 to 4:30 p.m.

Mabee Ballrooms

Graduate, New College graduation practice

4:30 to 5 p.m.

Mabee Ballrooms

Legacy Walk and Red Doors Revelry

5:30 p.m. (graduates meet in their cap and gown at 5:15 p.m.) 

Recreation and Convocation Center and Main Building Lawn

May 6:

Baccalaureate Mass (open to all graduates, their families and friends) 

6:30 p.m. (graduates meet in their cap and gown at 6:15 p.m.)

Recreation and Convocation Center


May 7:


10 a.m.

Frank Erwin Center

Graduate, New College

4 to 5:30 p.m.

Recreation and Convocation Center

See more graduation information on Hilltop Send-off