John M. McCardell Jr., president emeritus of Middlebury College, and the vice-chancellor of Sewanee: The University of the South, will be the speaker at the 176th Commencement of the Williston Northampton School.
In 2015, McCardell was appointed chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). NAICU board members set the association agenda on federal higher education policy; actively encourage support of association priorities and initiatives; and oversee the organization’s financial administration.
McCardell is a distinguished historian and respected national leader in liberal arts education. He possesses a record of achievement as a scholar of the American South, as the chief executive of one of America’s finest liberal arts colleges, and as a respected national figure in the public discussion about higher education and student life.
A prolific writer, McCardell is the author of The Idea of a Southern Nation, developed from his Ph.D. dissertation, as well as many essays, chapters, articles, and book reviews. His specialty is U.S. history in the 19th century with special emphasis on the Old South and on American historiography.
A Maryland native and 1971 graduate of Washington and Lee University, he did his graduate work at The Johns Hopkins University and then at Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in history in 1976. McCardell has received honorary degrees from Washington and Lee University and from St. Michael’s College.
McCardell joined the history faculty at Middlebury in 1976 and served as Middlebury’s president from 1992 until he stepped down in 2004.
McCardell served as chairman of the Division III Presidents’ Council of the NCAA in 2003-04 and led a successful, comprehensive reform effort. McCardell founded Choose Responsibility, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage the public in informed and dispassionate debate about the effects of legislation mandating a legal drinking age of 21. In 2008 he co-sponsored the Amethyst Initiative, a statement signed by 135 college and university presidents that challenges the effectiveness of current drinking-age laws.
He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa and has been honored with grants and fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Southern Studies.
McCardell is married to Bonnie Greenwald McCardell, an advocate for quality childcare and education as well as eldercare and retirement communities. Bonnie is a graduate of Connecticut College and has a master’s degree in early childhood from the University of South Carolina. They have two grown sons.