David Dawson, Earlham College's 17th president
David Dawson began his tenure as President and Professor of Religion at Earlham College on July 1, 2011. Dawson's sixth year as president will be his last. In May 2016, Dawson announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2017. A search for his successor is underway.
Under Dawson’s leadership, Earlham has invested more than $70 million in facilities, adopted a new brand to sharpen the College’s image as a leading national liberal arts institution, and initiated, received approval for and begun implementation of a strategic plan designed to position the College for future growth.
Since Dawson’s arrival, Stanley Hall has been completely renovated to enhance learning opportunities for students in Chemistry and Biology, and a second phase of new construction has been completed in October 2015 to support additional Natural Sciences in the Center for Science and Technology.
The Center for Visual and Performing Arts, new construction that opened in fall 2014, combines Art, Music and Theatre Arts under one roof for the first time.
Randal R. Sadler Stadium, completed in summer 2014, is the new home for Quaker Baseball, and Darrell Beane Stadium, home of the football program, was modernized with new lights and field turf.
Tyler Hall, a 1907 Carnegie Library, was also completely restored in fall 2013 as a Welcome Center while also combining the Admissions, Financial Aid and Marketing operations of the College.
Driven by a vision that holds together the classic liberal arts and the vocational and professional preparation of its students, Dawson helped the College develop new branding under the proclamation that “Becoming Fully Present is the Best Way to Move the World Forward,” linking Earlham’s emphasis on personal self-discovery and value formation with the College’s desire to foster social responsibility and enable students to make a transformative impact on the world.
In 2012, at the culmination of the first phase of a college-wide strategic planning, Dawson led Earlham to establish the Center for Integrated Learning (CIL). The CIL is the experiential learning hub at Earlham and integrates students’ academic pursuits with opportunities for service learning, internships, faculty-student research and off-campus study.
Prior to Earlham, Dawson was a member of the faculty and Provost at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He came to Haverford in 1987 directly from Yale University, where he received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies in 1988. Prior to this, Dawson received a B.A. from Towson State University, majoring in English and History, and his Master of Divinity degree from the Divinity School of Duke University.
Dawson is the author of two books on ancient biblical interpretation and one book on modern literary theory, as well as a collection of scholarly articles. He enjoys teaching courses in the areas of modern religious thought and comparative literature.
While serving as Provost at Haverford, Dawson worked with other campus leaders on the early development of three new academic centers (the Hurford Humanities Center, the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, and the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center), initiatives in the area of diversity and social justice, and the development of new programming in the arts.
Dawson’s wife, Ellen, is a graphic artist and graduate of Yale Divinity School, and the Dawson’s have two children; Aaron, a graduate of Macalester College and New York University, and Abigail, a 2016 Earlham graduate.