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Office of the President | About Neil Kerwin

American University President Neil Kerwin

American University President Neil Kerwin

Cornelius Kerwin became American University's fourteenth president on September 1, 2007. He had been AU's acting, then interim, president since August 2005, and served as provost from 1997 until 2005.

Dr. Kerwin is a long-standing member of the AU community. He received a BA from American University in 1971 (followed by an MA in political science from the University of Rhode Island in 1973, and a PhD in political science from Johns Hopkins University in 1978) and has been a member of the AU faculty since 1975. He has held a number of prominent leadership positions within the School of Public Affairs, including his service as dean from 1989 to 1997.

As provost, Dr. Kerwin served as the university’s chief academic officer, leading approximately 475 full-time teaching faculty in AU’s six schools and colleges (College of Arts and Sciences, Kogod School of Business, School of Communication School of International Service, School of Public Affairs, and Washington College of Law). He also supervised admissions, financial aid, the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, the University Library, the Office of the Registrar, and other offices, including the Washington Semester Program and those reporting to the Dean of Academic Affairs (General Education Program, University Honors Program, Center for Teaching Excellence, Career Center, and Office of Sponsored Programs).

He has worked with the deans and faculty committees to complete a review of AU’s master’s and doctoral programs, resulting in fewer programs but creating distinctive market niches, improved physical facilities, and enhanced national reputations. He also oversaw the creation of AU’s University College Program (launched fall 2005), an integrated learning-living program for first-year undergraduate students. During his time as provost, the university conducted reviews of the school’s General Education Program, University Honors Program, and academic advising system.

As part of the university’s 15-Point Plan, Dr. Kerwin led the process for restructuring faculty governance, helping to create a new Faculty Senate, which was overwhelmingly ratified by a historic faculty vote. In 2003, he oversaw AU’s decennial self-study that resulted in the Middle States Association Commission’s unconditional reaccreditation and the Commission’s Self-Study Institute’s adoption of AU’s self-study report and design as a model for other schools.

While provost, Dr. Kerwin advanced major efforts to support faculty scholarship, teaching, and service; diversify the faculty; bring faculty salaries to the AAUP–Level 1 standard; enhance technology resources and utilization; and develop comprehensive plans for assessing student learning, promoting academic integrity, and improving administrative processes.

Dr. Kerwin, a professor of public administration in the School of Public Affairs, is a nationally recognized specialist in public policy, with emphasis on the regulatory process. He is actively engaged in teaching and research and teaches courses in administrative process, policy implementation, and American government. He is the author of Rulemaking: How Government Agencies Write Law and Make Policy (3rd ed., 2003, Congressional Quarterly Press) and the coauthor of How Washington Works: The Executives Guide to Government (3rd ed., 1996). Dr. Kerwin’s scholarly articles have appeared in Public Administration Review, Journal of Politics, Policy Studies Review, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Judicature, Justice System Journal, and Harvard Journal on Legislation. He is also the author of numerous monographs, chapters in edited books, anthologies, and articles in professional and popular publications.

Under Dr. Kerwin’s leadership, the university established the Center for the Study of Rulemaking in July 2004. As part of its mission to better understand and improve the processes and techniques used by government agencies to develop regulations, the Center organizes conferences, symposia, and workshops, which bring together scholars, public and private sector personnel, and the larger academic community.

Dr. Kerwin’s experience in the public sector includes work with the Office of Personnel Management, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Administrative Conference of the United States, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Agriculture, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Public Health Service. In the private sector, he has served as a consultant to IBM Corporation and General Electric.

Dr. Kerwin is active in a number of professional associations and societies. He was elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) in 1996. He was president of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) in 1998 and was the founding chair of the Section on Public Law and Administration of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). He is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha and Pi Alpha Alpha national honor societies for the fields of political science and public administration, respectively.

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