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Luce Foundation Begins Search for a
New President

In June, 2018, Michael Gilligan announced that he will retire in the second half of 2019 from his role as President of the Henry Luce Foundation.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, Margaret Boles Fitzgerald, Chair of the Board, expressed gratitude for his 16 years of exemplary leadership as President:

“With deep wisdom and integrity, Michael Gilligan has led the work of the Foundation, demonstrating a faithfulness to its history and mission, as well as a capacity to bring innovation to our distinct and field-building programs.”

She has appointed a search committee to identify his successor.

Dr. Gilligan came to the Luce Foundation in 1998 from the Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada, where he focused on accreditation and leadership education, after a decade as Academic Dean at the Pontifical College Josephinum, a seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Initially appointed by Henry Luce III, then CEO, as Program Director for Theology, Gilligan was elected President and CEO in December 2002. During his tenure, the Luce Foundation has awarded more than $485 million in new grants and increased its assets under management to $900 million. Under his leadership, the Foundation has enhanced its governance and infrastructure, sharpened its practices of evaluation and planning, and expanded the reach of its grantmaking to include new and underserved communities. These years have seen, also, the election of seven new board members to guide the Foundation and the appointment of experienced professionals to direct all of the Foundation’s programs and activities.

Committed to a responsive approach, the Foundation’s programs refined their strategies of field-building, seeking to effect measurable impact over a long horizon. To heighten attention to core commitments, the Foundation launched a series of special multi-year initiatives including three in the Asia Program (Early History and Archaeology, the Luce Initiative in Asian Studies and the Environment, and the Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia); the American Art Renewal Fund; the Luce Fund for Theological Education; and, in Public Policy, the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs.

At the Foundation’s 75th Anniversary, Gilligan guided the board and staff’s efforts of research and publication to present the priorities shared among the Foundation’s distinct, long-standing programs. A $10 million special grant initiative celebrated Henry R. Luce’s legacy by making awards to several institutions with early ties to the founder’s family as well as to first-time grantees, all focused on projects that built bridges across boundaries and brought “big ideas” to new audiences.

Gilligan’s presidency has deepened the Foundation’s dedication to fostering a new generation of leaders. Central to this commitment are two signature programs that he has encouraged: Luce Scholars, sending young American professionals to Asia to build greater understanding of the region in whatever field they may pursue, and the Clare Boothe Luce Program, increasing women’s leadership in the STEM disciplines. These long-standing programs have been complemented by new efforts: preparing leaders for a religiously plural society; opening curatorial internships to enrich and diversify the professional pipeline; developing the heritage language skills of first-generation community college students to advance their careers; creating an international graduate summer school at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, linking women students in the sciences to international professional networks; and supporting collaborative projects among journalists, policy makers, and scholars of religion. In 2019 the Foundation will launch its newest project, the Initiative on Native American Intellectual Leadership, amplifying the voices of public intellectuals from under-recognized communities.

Confirming his retirement plan, Michael Gilligan wrote: “Since 1998, I’ve been honored to advance the Foundation’s distinctive mission. For 16 years, I have enjoyed the rare privilege of serving a committed board and sharing in the transformative work of staff colleagues. I’ll depart in 2019, grateful for this unique opportunity for learning and leadership, hallmarks of a Foundation that is ready to welcome a new president.”

The search committee has designated Heidrick and Struggles as the consultants for the presidential search.

Resumes and letters of interest can be submitted to

View the Position Specification

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