Benjamin B. Dunlap
Early days and education
A native of Columbia, South Carolina, with an affinity for extinction, Dunlap drowned and was resuscitated at the age of 13 and, amidst a succession of medical emergencies, had a near-fatal motorcycle accident when he was 33.
In keeping with that existential pattern, Dunlap played football and ran track at the University of the South (Sewanee), and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order. He graduated in 1959 summa cum laude. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar and Harvard University as a graduate student in English language and literature. At Oxford, Dunlap completed B.A. with Honours in English in 1962 and M.A. in 1966. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1967. During his Oxford days, Dunlap’s closest friends included Alan Coren, Melvyn Bragg, and Kris Kristofferson.
Before moving to Wofford, Dunlap held faculty appointments at both Harvard (after receiving his Ph.D. and again as a visiting professor in 1972) and for 25 years at the University of South Carolina (1968–1992). where, as a Carolina Professor, he won numerous awards for teaching and scholarship including the Russell Award for Distinguished Scholarship (1980), the University of South Carolina Teacher of the Year Award (1974), the Outstanding Teacher of English Award (1974), the South Carolina College Outstanding Professor Award (1984), and the Mortarboard Excellence in Teaching Award (1991).
Before being elected the 10th president at Wofford, Dr. Dunlap was the Chapman Family Professor of Humanities for seven years (1993–2000). In addition to cross-disciplinary courses, his teaching fields include literature, intellectual history, Asian studies, film history, fiction writing, and the arts. He continues to teach the Wofford College Presidential Seminar.
Dunlap has taught and lectured widely in Europe, India, Thailand, and Japan. He has twice served as a Fulbright professor in Thailand and as a Japan Society Leadership Fellow in Japan. Since 1985, he has been a frequent moderator for the Aspen Institute's Executive and C.E.O. Seminars as well as its Henry Crown Fellowship and such affiliated programs as the Executive Seminar Asia, the Faculty Seminars at Wye, the Aspen-Rodel Fellowship, the Africa Leadership Initiative, the Central European Leadership Initiative, and the Liberty Fellowship of South Carolina, with which he has been affiliated since its inception. He has also designed and moderated seminars in Europe, Africa, and the United States for corporate clients as varied as the Netflix Corporation, Young & Rubicam, the Waters Global Forum, the Nova Chemical Corporation, and the Arab Banking Corporation.
Dunlap has published poems, essays, anthologies, guides and opera libretti. As a writer, producer, and on-camera presenter for public television, he has been a major contributor to more than 200 programs beginning with his much-acclaimed 1979 series Cinematic Eye. Among his many awards for work in film and television are a national EMMY Award Nomination, two CINE Golden Eagle Awards, a First Place Award in the Samuel G. Engel International Film & Television Drama Competition, and a Parents' Choice Award. He has written a novel, Famous Dogs of the Civil War, and a novella, Sunshine: The Autobiography of a Genius. For five years in the late 70’s and early 80’s, he performed as soloist and principal dancer for the Columbia City Ballet.
In 2007, Dunlap was among "50 remarkable people" invited to present at the prestigious TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, California. He joined such notables as former President Bill Clinton, former NBA star and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, author Isabel Allende, and singer/songwriter Paul Simon. His presentation is posted on the TED Talks website at <http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ben_dunlap_talks_about_a_passionate_life.html>. In January 2006, Dunlap received an honorary degree from his alma mater, the University of the South (Sewanee). In 2010, he was presented with the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities.
Dunlap married Anne Boyd Dunlap in 1963; they have three children. He and his family lived in Thailand for two and a half years, where he picked up his love for the game of Sepak Takraw, a cross between soccer and volleyball played on a doubles' badminton court.
In his years serving as President of Wofford College, Dunlap has achieved mythic status in the minds of his admiring pupils. Sadly, photographic evidence of Dunlap’s most notable exploits largely does not exist, but students have faithfully preserved the knowledge, carefully handing down the rich oral history to each incoming freshman class. A small sample of Dunlap's many undocumented feats includes wrestling tigers, photosynthesizing, and solving a four-disk Tower of Hanoi puzzle in fourteen moves. Also discussed by students are the cryptic origins of his famously mysterious accent, but scholars on the subject consider their findings too sacred to confine with pen and paper. While the student body does not expect outsiders to believe the factuality of Benjamanic Tradition, they know from close association with the brilliance of Wofford’s beloved president that the word “impossible” describes only an achievement he has not yet chosen to attain.
- "Seminar Moderators: Benjamin Bernard Dunlap". Aspen Institute. Retrieved 2007-04-05.
- Sean P. Flynn (2007-04-05). "Dunlap's Wikipedia entry is the stuff of legend". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Retrieved 2007-04-05.
- "Wofford president receives honorary degree at Sewanee". Director of News Services, Wofford College. 2006-01-19. Retrieved 2007-04-05.
- "Faculty and Research: Benjamin B. Dunlap". Management Institute of Paris. Retrieved 2007-04-05.
- "Moderator Bios: Dr. Benjamin (Ben) Dunlap". Africa Leadership Initiative. Retrieved 2007-04-05.
- "Wofford president among 50 'remarkable people' at TED". Swamp Fox. 2007-03-08. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-04-05.
- "Biography". Wofford College. Retrieved 2007-04-05.
- Dill, Ashley. "Wofford president dressed as Elvis at school's Terrio". GoUpstate.com. Retrieved 15 August 2011.