Forward, With Purpose

Margee grid dickinson magazine summer21dsonmag

Former President Margee Ensign sets Dickinson up for success as she departs to make a difference

In May, Margee Ensign announced her resignation as president of Dickinson College effective June 30, 2021. The college’s board of trustees appointed board chair John E. Jones III ’77, P’11, to a two-year term as interim president.

Ensign is returning to Yola, Nigeria, to become president of the American University of Nigeria (AUN), a role she held before becoming president of Dickinson in 2017.

“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve had to make many difficult decisions, but the decision to leave Dickinson is by far the most difficult of my career,” Ensign said. “When I was asked to return to AUN, I felt called to continue the education and peace work we had started through the university. In its 238-year history, Dickinson has never wavered in its mission to educate leaders for our democracy—leaders who will work for the common good. It is the education our world needs most at this moment, and it has been a privilege to lead Dickinson through these unprecedented times.”

“Margee is someone who cares deeply. This is a reflection of who she is truly as a person, and I think it continues to show in the decision that she has made to respond to the call for help and just how passionate she is about people, and I want to thank her for everything. She’s made us all feel important, she’s made us all feel our work was critical and she’s always answered the call.” —Manal El Harrak, chief executive officer of the Sadler Health Center and member of the Carlisle Community Action Network.

Ensign became Dickinson’s 29th president on July 1, 2017. During her distinguished tenure, she reconnected Dickinson to the roots of its founding— to provide a useful education for the common good. Her brave thought leadership and action during the COVID-19 pandemic brought national attention to Dickinson for its decisions to operate remotely for the fall 2020 semester and to pilot a test-free admissions model. Among her most notable achievements, Ensign:

  • established the Center for Civic Learning & Action to develop ethical leaders who will build resilient communities and to strengthen Dickinson’s commitment to and presence in the Carlisle community
  • expanded Dickinson’s global footprint by establishing new partner programs and led Dickinson to become the only U.S. college to twice receive the Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization
  • founded the Carlisle Community Action Network (CAN), which fosters dialogue, collaboration and action among community leaders (in 2020, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council bestowed its Heart & Soul Hero award in recognition of CAN’s quick and effective response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Carlisle community)
  • deepened Dickinson’s relationship with the neighboring U.S. Army War College and created Dickinson’s first online master’s degree program in managing complex disasters
  • partnered with the Institute of International Education to provide much-needed training opportunities that go beyond cultural-awareness education and instead reimagine an international education framework that incorporates global, intercultural and equity-inclusion lenses
  • entered a new partnership with the prestigious study-abroad organization CET Academic Programs, which makes Dickinson the school of record and credit-granting institution for CET’s expanding high school and pre-college study-abroad programs
  • launched the Dickinson College Ballet Certificate Program with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB), which combines the benefits of Dickinson’s rigorous liberal-arts education with preprofessional ballet instruction at the world-renowned CPYB
  • advanced Dickinson’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts throughout the campus community
  • engaged alumni in learning opportunities and as partners in innovating for the future.

“I thank Margee Ensign for her extraordinary leadership as Dickinson’s president and wish her well in her return to Nigeria. And, as John prepares to serve as interim president, I know his deep knowledge and commitment to Dickinson, combined with his esteemed, nationally recognized career in the judiciary, make him the right person to lead the college at this time.” —Douglas J. Pauls ’80, vice chair of the board of trustees.

“I look forward to continuing the momentum President Ensign has created. She achieved so much in her four years as president. Her visionary leadership and steady hand have catapulted Dickinson to the forefront of liberal-arts colleges.” —John E. Jones III ’77, P’11

Read more from the summer 2021 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published August 13, 2021