agendaangle-downangle-leftangleRightarrow-downarrowRightbarscalendarcaret-downcartchildrenhighlightlearningResourceslistmapMarkeropenBookp1pinpoetry-magazineprintquoteLeftquoteRightslideshowtagAudiotagVideoteenstrash-o
Skip to Content

Henry Bienen served as Northwestern University’s president from 1995 through 2009 and currently serves as president emeritus of Northwestern University. He was the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University prior to his appointment at Northwestern.

A political scientist with interests in political and economic development, comparative politics, civil-military relations, and U.S. foreign policy, Bienen began his association with Princeton University in 1966 as an assistant professor. He was named associate professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton in 1969 and professor of politics and international affairs in 1972. He was appointed the William Stewart Tod Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton in 1981 and the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in 1985.

Bienen is one of the first three university presidents awarded the Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award for innovative leadership in higher education. The honor carries a $500,000 award for the institution and recognizes leaders of institutions of higher education who have demonstrated an abiding commitment to liberal arts and who have initiated and supported curricular innovations, including development of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs that aim to bridge the gulf between the theoretical and the practical. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Until June 2011, Bienen was a member of the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, serving on the executive committee and chairing the nominating and governance committees. He is a member of the board of directors of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and serves on its executive committee. Bienen is a former member of the board of the Chicago Public Schools. He is a member of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Economic Development & Planning Committee and was a member of the Argonne National Laboratory Board of Governors, serving on the board's executive, nominating, and auditing committees.

Northwestern University awarded Bienen an honorary doctorate in humane letters in June 2009. He received the University of Chicago Professional Achievement Alumni Award in 2000 and the 2008 Niagara Peace & Dialogue Award from the Niagara Foundation in 2008.

Bienen earned a bachelor's degree with honors from Cornell University in 1960 and a master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1961. He earned a doctorate from Chicago in 1966. In 2008, the Northwestern Board of Trustees honored him and his wife, Leigh, a senior lecturer at Northwestern University School of Law, by naming the University's School of Music the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music. The Bienens have three daughters, five grandsons, and one granddaughter.