Dr. Mariko Silver selected to lead Bennington College

Dr. Mariko Silver has been selected as the next president of Bennington College. Previously, Dr. Silver was the Acting Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Policy at the United States Department of Homeland Security. Prior to her time at the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Silver was a Policy Advisor to Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, and oversaw the State’s public and private universities, community colleges, vocational institutions, the Arizona Department of Commerce and its Science Foundation. She has also worked at Arizona State University and Columbia University. Silver has a BA in history from Yale, a masters in science and technology policy from the University of Sussex, and a PhD in economic geography from UCLA.

The text of Chairman of the Board of Trustees Alan Kornberg ‘74’s email to the College community is below.


Dear Members of the Bennington College Community:

I am delighted to announce that Dr. Mariko Silver has been selected as the 10th president of Bennington College. A leading educational, public policy, and international strategist, she has held prominent roles at Columbia University, at Arizona State University, in the administration of Arizona’s governor Janet Napolitano, and in the Obama administration. She will succeed Elizabeth Coleman, Bennington’s president for 25 years, who retires this month.

In learning of our decision, Dr. Silver said:

“I am thrilled and honored to lead Bennington, one of the nation’s most innovative liberal arts colleges. Bennington stands as a unique and essential voice in the higher education landscape. In its emphasis on the essential role of creativity throughout the curriculum, its developing focus on public service, its commitment to the teacher-practitioner model, and through its most fundamental organizational design element, which places students—and graduates—at the center of what matters, Bennington is distinctly positioned to engage head-on many of the challenges and opportunities facing higher education in the coming decade.”

Mariko Silver embodies a new model for the American college president—someone who sees the world not as a set of givens but as a collection of resources to be harnessed. She has an extraordinary intellectual and imaginative vitality, an outstanding track record, and a deep commitment to the College’s pedagogic traditions and values. Dr. Silver’s appointment also signals Bennington’s ambitions to expand the influence of the College’s founding ideals and contemporary practices in a world that is rapidly changing, that is simultaneously fragmented and interconnected, and that is, in every dimension, increasingly complex and global.

She comes to Bennington from Arizona State University (ASU), where, as senior advisor to President Michael Crow, she was a key strategist in what Newsweek called “one of the most radical redesigns in higher learning since the origins of the modern university.” She designed and led campus, community, and international initiatives focused on student engagement and accomplishment, on cutting-edge science, and on economic development. Dr. Silver also served as Professor of Practice in ASU’s School of Politics and Global Studies and established international research and teaching partnerships, including the international University Design Consortium.

Dr. Silver served in the Obama administration as Acting Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Policy of the US Department of Homeland Security where she created the first department-wide international strategy, managed the Department’s international engagements, and co-developed a global initiative to enhance aviation security. Prior to that, she served as Policy Advisor to Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, with responsibility for the state’s public and private universities, community colleges, and vocational institutions; the Arizona Department of Commerce; and Science Foundation Arizona. In these capacities she has worked with multiple communities and constituencies around the world and very close to home.

She holds a BA in History from Yale University, an MSc in Science and Technology Policy from the University of Sussex (UK), and a PhD in Economic Geography from the University of California at Los Angeles. She and her husband, musician Thom Loubet, have one child and another on the way.

We look forward with great pleasure to welcoming Mariko Silver and her family to Bennington this summer. I would like to thank the members of the search committee and the Board of Trustees who so carefully and capably led this process. But most of all, thank you to Bennington’s faculty, students, staff, alumni, and parents who played a lively and important role in helping the trustees select our next president. This is a thrilling moment for Bennington filled with promise and possibility.


Alan Kornberg ’74

Chairman of the Board of Trustees