James M. Dennis

McKendree University

James M. Dennis has served for 26 years as the president of McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois. Dennis has led McKendree to record growth in enrollment, academic programs (including in new master’s and doctoral programs), on-campus residence, campus construction and renovation, and the academic strength of students. The number of faculty and staff members has nearly tripled, and fundraising has increased dramatically. He has promoted initiatives to diversify the campus community and beautify the campus landscape, including the development of the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts. Prior to his service at McKendree, Dennis spent 27 years at the University of Southern California, first as assistant professor in the athletics and recreation department and later as vice president for student affairs. He is a former member of the CIC Board of Directors. Dennis is the president of Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, a nonprofit economic development corporation. He served on the boards of the Higher Education Consortium of Metropolitan St. Louis, the Associated Colleges of Illinois, and the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities, and he is past president of Illinois Campus Compact. Dennis earned a BA from Occidental College and a PhD in management from the University of Southern California; he also attended the Claremont Graduate School Institute on Higher Education. He studied in Germany on a Fulbright Fellowship to examine the German system of higher education.