Eugene M. Lang (1919-2017), Chair Emeritus and Founder
For more than 60 years, Mr. Lang pursued a business career, creating a succession of diverse manufacturing ventures in the United States and abroad based on new products and innovative technologies. A charter member of the Licensing Executives Association, he became recognized internationally as having pioneered licensing and technology transfer as practical means for small American manufacturers to establish their business potential in overseas markets. Reflecting on his accomplishments, Forbes Magazine characterized him as 'the quintessential entrepreneur' and Nation's Business 'a father of innovation.' An active protagonist of small business interests, he received the Government's 'E' Award from President Kennedy. As an expert in entrepreneurial ventures and small business development, he served with distinction on various U.S. Government commissions and represented the United States as a member of seven overseas economic and investment missions of the Commerce and State Departments.
After establishing the Eugene M. Lang Foundation in 1963, Mr. Lang increasingly directed his time and talents to philanthropy. In 1997, he terminated all business activities to devote himself exclusively to philanthropy through his foundation. The well-known 'I Have a Dream' Program that he created in 1981 has become a nationwide enterprise that operates in more than 75 cities, providing sustained personalized guidance and support to many thousands of disadvantaged children (identified as 'Dreamers') throughout their K-12 years plus an assured college opportunity.
Mr. Lang was a visionary expressing concern about our democracy, civic engagement, and social responsibility long before it was fashionable. In 1999, Lang wrote "The philosophy of liberal arts is the philosophy of a democratic society in which citizenship, social responsibility, and community are inseparable. An educated citizenry is the essential instrument for promoting responsible social action and community well-being" ("Distinctively American: The Residential Liberal Arts Colleges," Daedalus, Vol. #128 No. #1 , Winter, 1999.)
In 2001, he established 'Project Pericles' as a seminal facility to promote preparation for responsible citizenship as a curricular component of higher education. Over the years, he created a variety of innovative scholarships, academic and social performance incentives, fellowships, and chairs at many colleges. He supported and endowed numerous internships, researchers and socially-oriented projects for students and faculty. Under his guidance, Project Pericles developed many of its signature initiatives including the Civic Engagement Course (CEC) Program™, Debating for Democracy (D4D)™, and Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL) Program™. These programs reach thousands of college students across 31 colleges and universities every year.
Mr. Lang had service relationships with many institutions. Among them, he was Chairman Emeritus of Swarthmore College, founder and Chairman Emeritus of the national 'I Have a Dream' Foundation, founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Conference of Board Chairs of Liberal Arts Colleges, and board member of the Columbia Business School where he established the Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship, the Carnegie-Mellon Graduate School of Management, The New School whose undergraduate liberal arts college bears his name, and the Individual Investors Advisory Committee of the New York Stock Exchange. He received many distinctions and awards, including 29 honorary degrees. Recognizing Mr. Lang’s services to education, President George H.W. Bush designated him a 'Point of Light' and President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, this country's highest civilian award.
Commentators often described Eugene M. Lang as the "most creative philanthropist in America." The combination of entrepreneurial instincts and creative imagination that fueled his diverse business ventures around the world characterized his philanthropic ventures as well. He initiated education, health, and arts enterprises that are recognized for their ingenuity and transformational accomplishments.
Mr. Lang, born of immigrant parents in 1919, grew up in New York City during the Great Depression. A 1938 graduate of Swarthmore College, he earned an MS degree from Columbia University and studied mechanical engineering at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. He was a member of the Century Club and The Yale Club. At the time of his death in 2017, he had three children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Read Mr. Lang's obituary in The New York Times.
Richard Ekman, Chair
Richard Ekman has served as president of the Council of Independent Colleges since 2000. During this time, Ekman has led the 50 percent growth in CIC’s membership and participation in CIC’s programs. He has initiated many new programs and services to colleges and universities on key issues in independent higher education. During his tenure, CIC has formed partnerships with the American Academic Leadership Institute to offer the Executive and Senior Leadership Academies, and with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation to manage the Visiting Fellows program. Also, Ekman facilitated the merger into CIC of the Foundation for Independent Higher Education—with its state-based affiliates and the distribution of approximately 550 scholarships each year funded by the CIC/UPS Educational Endowment. CIC also created and manages the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education, which now has more than 200 college and university members. Under Ekman’s leadership especially generous financial support has been obtained for CIC’s programs from foundations including Lilly Endowment Inc., Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, UPS Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and Walmart Foundation.
Previously, Ekman served as vice president for programs of Atlantic Philanthropies and as secretary and senior program officer of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In his early professional life, he was at the National Endowment for the Humanities, successively as director of the Division of Education Programs and the Division of Research Programs; at Hiram College as vice president and dean, where he also was a tenured member of the history faculty; and at the University of Massachusetts at Boston as assistant to the provost. He currently serves as a member of several boards, including those that provide guidance to the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Chair), American Academic Leadership Institute, Emeriti Retirement Health, and Project Pericles (Chair). He has been awarded honorary degrees by Alvernia, Otterbein, St. Edward’s, and Marywood Universities, and Alderson-Broaddus, Bethany, Davis & Elkins, Georgetown, Hastings, and Ursinus Colleges, and is a recipient of the W.E.B. DuBois Medal of Harvard University. He is co-author, with Richard E. Quandt, of Technology and Scholarly Communication (University of California Press, 1999). His essays have appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, University Business, Inside Higher Ed, Carnegie Reporter, and Washington Post. Ekman earned his AB in history and PhD in the history of American civilization from Harvard University.
Jan R. Liss, Executive Director
Jan R. Liss has served as Executive Director of Project Pericles since 2005. During her tenure at Project Pericles, she has developed, launched, and implemented the Civic Engagement Course (CEC) Program™, Debating for Democracy (D4D)™, the Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL) Program™, Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement, and Creating Curricular Coherence through Inquiry-Based Curricula and Thematic Pathways. In 2009, the White Paper, "Civic Engagement in the Classroom: Strategies for Incorporating Education for Civic and Social Responsibility in the Undergraduate Curriculum," by Ariane Liazos and Ms. Liss, shares the learnings from the CEC program. The article, "Incorporating Education for Civic and Social Responsibility into the Undergraduate Curriculum," by Ms. Liss and Ariane Liazos is published in the January/February 2010 issue of Change magazine. In 2012, she co-authored a White Paper "The Periclean Diamond: Linking College, Campuses, Communities, and Colleagues via Social and Civic High Engagement Learning" with Ben Berger, Associate Professor of Political Science and Periclean Faculty Leader at Swarthmore College, that shares insights from the Periclean Faculty Leadership program. In 2019, she co-authored an article, “Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement: Five Approaches to Institutionalizing Civic Engagement” with Garret S. Batten, Assistant Director, Project Pericles; Adrienne Falcón, Associate Professor in the Department of Public and Non-Profit Leadership, Metropolitan State University (MN); and Arielle del Rosario, Program Manager, Project Pericles that appeared in the eJournal of Public Affairs - Volume 8 Issue 1, Exemplary Scholarship from the 2018 CLDE Meeting: Innovative Civic Engagement Pedagogy.
Ms. Liss graduated from Reed College with a BA in Psychology and earned her MBA from the Yale University School of Management. In 2008, she was a Tenenbaum Leadership Initiative Fellow at Milano, The New School for Management and Urban Policy.
Ms. Liss has thirty years of senior leadership in management, planning, and financial development for a wide range of academic/educational organizations, including The Aspen Institute, Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports and ConsumerReports.org), The New York Public Library, The Brookings Institution, American Express, and The Portland Art Association (Oregon). As an independent consultant to academic and not-for-profit institutions, she has served clients that include The Aspen Institute, Columbia University, and the University of Missouri School of Law on matters of strategic planning, curriculum planning, and publishing.
From 1985 to 2000, Ms. Liss served in senior management at Consumers Union. As Vice-President for Strategic Planning and Business Development, she was a member of the Policy Committee, the team that shaped and directed the organization. She directed new product and services development and evaluated business opportunities and developed, launched, and implemented Consumers Union's strategic plan.
Most recently, she was Associate Director of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program and Director of CasePlace.org: Developing Leaders for a Sustainable Society. She led the design and launch of CasePlace.org, an interactive website of case studies and teaching materials that integrates societal issues and business strategies. She also developed the annual Walter V. Shipley Business Leadership Case Competition designed to boost the leadership and ethical decision-making capacity of business school students.
Ms. Liss serves on the Board of Directors of Project Pericles. She previously served on the Board of Directors of College and Community Fellowship and the Board of Trustees of Reed College.
Neil R. Grabois
Neil R. Grabois was elected Project Pericles Board Chair in 2014 and served as Chair until July 1, 2019. He is a mathematician and a former university administrator. He held positions as the dean, provost, and chair of the department of mathematical sciences of Williams College; as the thirteenth President of Colgate University, from 1988 to 1999; as Vice President at Carnegie Corporation of New York; and as the dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School, where he served from 2010 until 2013.
Dr. Grabois received his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania after attending Swarthmore College. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School. Dr. Grabois currently sits on the boards of Project Pericles, Smith College, and The Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women.
Dr. Grabois is an adjunct faculty member of Teacher's College at Columbia University.
He and his wife Miriam have two children and one grandchild.
Arielle M. del Rosario, Assistant Director
Arielle del Rosario joined Project Pericles in 2017 where she leads programs that support civic leadership among faculty members and students. Arielle coauthored an article for the eJournal of Public Affairs, Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement: Five Approaches to Institutionalizing Civic Engagement (April 2019) by Garret S. Batten, Adrienne Falcón, Jan R. Liss, and Arielle del Rosario. She developed the Periclean Voting Modules in collaboration with faculty and the Students Learn Students Vote (SLSV) Coalition. She currently serves on the Leadership Committee of the League of Women Voters NJ – Greater New Brunswick Area Chapter, is a member of the Issroff Family Foundation's WeareWISE leadership development program (Cohort VII), and has served on the SLSV Advisory Board. Her previous experience includes roles at the Schuler Scholar Program in Illinois and the “I Have a Dream Foundation” of Boulder County, Colorado. She is a Bonner Leader and AmeriCorps alumna. Arielle graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, with a B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University and holds an M.Sc., with Distinction, in Cognition in Science & Society from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.