William E. "Brit" Kirwan Receives College's Top Honor
William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, received the 2015 Circle of Discovery award from the University of Maryland's College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. He was honored with the award "for his service to the mathematics community, the State of Maryland and the nation as a recognized authority on critical issues in higher education including diversity, access, affordability, economic impact, college athletics reform and gender equity."
Kirwan is the 17th inductee into the Circle of Discovery, which honors the college's most notable faculty members and alumni for their visionary leadership and outstanding research. He received the award on March 10, 2015, during the Kirwan Mathematics Festival, a celebration of Kirwan's 50 years as a mathematician.
Kirwan joined the University of Maryland as an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics in 1964. In 1977, he became chair of the math department. Kirwan also served as vice president for academic affairs and provost before serving as president of the University of Maryland for 10 years (1988-1998) and president of Ohio State University for four years (1998-2002). In 2002, he returned to Maryland as chancellor.
Kirwan chairs the National Research Council Board of Higher Education and Workforce and co-chairs the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. He also serves on the Business-Higher Education Forum. Along with his national and international presentations on key issues, Kirwan has authored many articles on issues in higher education and has been profiled and cited in academic and mainstream publications. In 2013, he delivered the prestigious Robert H. Atwell Lecture at the 95th annual meeting of the American Council on Education.
The U.S. Senate Education Committee named Kirwan co-chair (with Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos) of its new Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education in 2013. That same year, the Association of Governing Board of Universities and Colleges appointed Kirwan to its newly formed National Commission on College and University Board Governance. In 2010, Kirwan was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. The group serves in an advisory capacity to the U.S. Secretary of Education on accreditation issues and certification processes for colleges and universities. He was also named chair of the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center Advisory Committee in 2010.
In 2002, Kirwan was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Kirwan is a member of several honorary and professional societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. In Maryland, Kirwan is a member of the boards of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Greater Baltimore Committee, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore and the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education.
Kirwan received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Kentucky and his master's and doctoral degrees in mathematics from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in 1962 and 1964, respectively.
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About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 7,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $150 million.