David Maxwell (academic)

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David Evans Maxwell
12th President of Drake University
In office
May 15, 1999 – June 30, 2015
Preceded by Robert D. Ray (interim)
Michael Ferrari
Personal details
Born (1944-12-02) December 2, 1944 (age 72)
New York, New York
Spouse(s) Madeleine Mali Maxwell
Children Justin & Stephen
Alma mater Grinnell College
Brown University

David Maxwell (b. December 2, 1944, New York City) served as the 12th president of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa from 1999 until 2015.[1] He is the son of jazz trumpeter Jimmy Maxwell.

David Maxwell served as president of Drake University from May of 1999 through June, 2015, and held a faculty appointment as Professor of Literature. He was awarded the title of President emeritus by the Drake Board of Trustees upon his retirement. He was director of the National Foreign Language Center in Washington DC from 1993 to 1999, after serving as president of Whitman College from 1989 to 1993. Dr. Maxwell was at Tufts University from 1971 to 1989 as a faculty member in Russian language and literature (chairing both the Program in Russian and the Soviet & East European Area Program), and served as Dean of Undergraduate Studies from 1981-89.

Since June, 2015 Dr. Maxwell has been a Senior Fellow of the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) and a member of AGB’s consulting practice. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of Grinnell College.

Dr. Maxwell earned his bachelor’s degree in Russian area studies from Grinnell College in 1966. He was a participant in the Critical Languages Program at Princeton University in 1964-65. Dr. Maxwell received his master’s and doctorate degrees in Slavic languages and literatures from Brown University, in 1968 and 1974, respectively. He was a Fulbright Fellow in Moscow, U.S.S.R. in 1970-71.

Dr. Maxwell was a member of the Executive Committee of the Business/Higher Education Forum (BHEF) from 2004 until his retirement, and is currently an emeritus member of BHEF. He has served on the Boards of Directors of the American Council on Education (ACE), the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), and the National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities (NAICU). He currently serves on the executive committee of the Board of Directors of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Dr. Maxwell is a member of the Higher Education Working Group on Global Issues of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Leadership Council of AAC&U’s “Liberal Education for America’s Promise” Initiative. He is a member of the Iowa Advisory Council of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and the National Advisory Council of the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. Dr. Maxwell was elected to the Grinnell College Board of Trustees in June, 2015.

An internationally published scholar on the prose of Russian writer Anton Chekhov during his faculty career, Dr. Maxwell writes frequently on higher education issues for professional journals and other media outlets. As a senior administrator, he has had significant experience in a broad range of areas that include: program review and prioritization; institutional change; strategic planning; shared governance and board development; internationalization and globalization; integration of liberal arts education with preparation for careers; fundraising and community relations.

In 2011, Dr. Maxwell received the Chief Executive Leadership Award from District VI, Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In 2012, he received the A. Arthur Davis Distinguished Community Leadership Award from the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award from Character Counts in Iowa, and the President’s Award from Region IV-East of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). In 2014, Dr. Maxwell was the first college/university president inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was named the “Person of the Year” by the Chinese Association of Iowa, and received the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award.

In May 2011, Dr. Maxwell summited Mt. Kilimanjaro with his sons Justin and Stephen and members of the Drake University football team.


  1. ^ National Collegiate Athletic Association. "The NCAA News: NCAA Record". March 1, 1999. Retrieved on May 17, 2013.
Preceded by
Michael Ferrari
Robert D. Ray (interim)
President of Drake University
May 15 1999–June 30, 2015
Succeeded by
Marty Martin