Carol Quillen - President and CEO

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Phone - 202-588-6105

Carol Quillen is the 10th President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As the 18th president of Davidson College (2011-2022), she sought to honor the institution’s abiding values—integrity, humane instincts, creativity, discipline, leadership, and service— within our rapidly evolving, increasingly interconnected world. To that end, she helped the campus define a vision founded on ensuring access and affordability, reimagining the liberal arts for today, and equipping graduates to have disproportionate impact for good. Carol also strengthened the college’s commitment to meeting 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all students with no packaged loans.

Nationally, Carol is a founding member of the American Talent Initiative (ATI), a consortium that aims to graduate annually 50,000 additional low- and moderate-income students from the nation’s top colleges and universities.

Carol Quillen

Leadership for Carol means creating a context where communities can make desired or necessary changes to become more just, more humane, and better equipped to fulfill their shared aims. With her guidance, Davidson built on a liberal arts philosophy to develop a three-pronged model for education that serves the aspirations of a broadly diverse, very talented student body who live within a complex global society. The college’s students cultivate core capacities, like empathy, humane instincts, self-awareness, and intellectual humility; they learn transferable skills, such as creative problem-solving, quantitative analysis, cross-cultural collaboration and effective communication; and they develop technical expertise in their chosen fields, from computer science to art to public health. Combined with local and global experiential learning opportunities such as internships, international study, entrepreneurial projects, and community engagement, students graduate ready to lead meaningful, impactful lives.

Realizing this vision required a flexible and inclusive organization, Carol restructured and diversified the college’s leadership team, supported a reorganization of the board, developed an agile strategic framework to guide resource allocation, and built partnerships with organizations whose aspirations align with those of Davidson.In this work, she relied on Davidson’s longstanding commitment to both community and good stewardship.

Beyond Davidson, Carol has advocated for educational equity, institutional accountability, freedom of inquiry, honesty about our history, and the value of the liberal arts. Among other roles, she co-chaired, with General Robert Caslen, the NCAA’s Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence and she served on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans. She has spoken at numerous venues, including the Aspen Ideas Festival, edX Global Forum, and the Milken Global Conference. She has served on the boards of the Kinkaid School (Houston, Texas), American Council on Education (Washington, D.C.), the Levine Museum of the New South (Charlotte, North Carolina), and Credential Engine, a national organization that enables “credential transparency” in the post-secondary educational sector.

In 2019, Princeton awarded Carol the James Madison medal, given in recognition of an alumnus/a’s distinguished career advancing the cause of graduate education or record of outstanding public service.

Carol grew up in historic New Castle, Delaware and attended Wilmington Friends School. She earned a B.A. in American history from the University of Chicago, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with special and general honors, and a Ph.D. in European history from Princeton University. She then joined the History Department at Rice University, serving there on the faculty, as the founding director of the Boniuk Center (now the Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance), and as a vice provost and vice president before she was named president of Davidson.

She has received numerous academic awards, including the Amoco, Brown, Salgo and Sarofim teaching awards (at Rice) and earned fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation and Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Renaissance Studies in Florence, Italy. Carol is the author of two books and many articles. Her writings have appeared in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Huffington Post, The Hechinger Report, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

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