by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Dickinson recently bestowed an honorary title that reflects an alumnus and former leader’s ongoing contributions to scholarship and to Dickinson. President John E. Jones III ’77, P’11, bestowed the title on Bill Durden ’71.
Durden majored in German and philosophy at Dickinson and holds a Ph.D. in German language and literature from Johns Hopkins University. He retired as Dickinson’s president in 2013, after 14 years at the helm. The former college president continues to publish and speak publicly about the distinctions of U.S. higher education to audiences around the world. In print and for speaking engagements, he makes a point of including “president emeritus of Dickinson College” in his biography, in part to share the good word about his undergrad alma mater and former employer.
Now, he’ll add “contributing scholar” to the mix—a title that reflects current, rather than past, work and connections.
“This appointment allows the college to have the advantage of his broad experience in higher education as viewed through the lens of his deep knowledge of and impactful leadership at Dickinson,” says Jones. “We all look forward to working with him as we pursue our common commitment to Dickinson.”
“Contributing scholar” is a courtesy title; there’s no associated award or monetary prize. Instead, it recognizes Durden’s continuing academic contributions and provides him the same access to Dickinson’s library that professors and visiting scholars enjoy. The title also acknowledges the former president’s continuing contributions to the academic community, which helps raise visibility for the college.
Although few, if any, Dickinsonians have been bestowed with this title in the past, such honorary designations are not rare in academia. Durden had already been named visiting scholar for the School of Education at Johns Hopkins when he retired from Dickinson and was invited to accept a role as “courtesy joint-appointment professor” at his former graduate school. More recently, Johns Hopkins bestowed on Durden its Global Achievement Award.
A loyal supporter of Dickinson’s global programs, scholarships and forthcoming John M. Paz ’78 Alumni & Family Center, Durden says he’s grateful to receive the “contributing scholar” recognition from his undergraduate home. “There are a lot of good things happening at Dickinson, a lot of good momentum under President Jones,” Durden says. “I’m eager to help get the college’s name out there in whatever modest way I can, and I’m honored that President Jones has given me this title.”
Published September 30, 2022