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Northwestern President Emeritus to Lead Poetry Foundation

Henry S. Bienen named interim president of literary organization

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Henry S. Bienen, president emeritus of Northwestern University, has been named interim president of the Poetry Foundation, an independent literary organization that is committed to giving the best of poetry a vigorous presence in our culture.

“I hope my experience leading Northwestern University for almost 15 years has provided me with transferable ‘lessons learned’ that may be applicable in this new setting,” said Bienen. “I am delighted to have this opportunity to make a small contribution to the continued robust health of poetry, and all the literary arts, in this astonishing cultural community.” 

A lifelong reader and supporter of the arts, Bienen thought about pursuing poetry as an undergraduate at Cornell University.

“While our board conducts a national search for a new president, Henry Bienen’s experience leading Northwestern University, with its excellence in teaching and scholarly study of literature and poetry will provide a smooth transition for the Poetry Foundation,” said Richard Kiphart, board chair. “Further, Bienen’s strong connection to Chicago and its cultural institutions makes him uniquely suited to this important role.”

Bienen served as president of Northwestern from 1995 through 2009. During Bienen’s tenure, Northwestern’s reputation grew nationally and internationally, leading to the University’s increased academic prominence, financial strength and athletic success.

In 2008, Northwestern honored Bienen and his wife, Leigh, a senior lecturer at Northwestern University School of Law, by naming Northwestern’s school of music, The Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music. Bienen also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Northwestern University in 2009.

The Poetry Foundation is committed to discovering and celebrating the best poetry and placing it before the largest possible audience.

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