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Michael S. McPherson Named to McNally Smith Board of Directors; Distinguished Scholar and Educator Sees Quality, Leadership and Viable Growth

Michael McPhersonNational economist, author, editor, former Macalester president now newest board member

A renowned scholar, educator and published economist is the newest appointee to the Board of Directors at McNally Smith College of Music. Michael S. McPherson, formerly the seven-year President of Macalester College here in St. Paul, is a nationally known economist and educator and current President of the Spencer Foundation in Chicago ( He was recently named to the board by Jack McNally, Chairman of the Board. McNally Smith President Harry Chalmiers praised McPherson’s achievements and vision.

“Michael McPherson’s outstanding role in education and history of accomplishments bode extremely well for McNally Smith college as it faces current challenges and looks ahead to meeting the needs of tomorrow’s faculty and students,” Chalmiers says. “The college’s fellow Board of Directors and I are both honored and excited that Michael has accepted a position on our board and we eagerly look forward to working with him. “ McPherson was equally excited.

“I joined the McNally Smith board because I see the music college as a place that values quality, has strong leadership, and an important mission,” notes McPherson, who is also the former dean of faculty at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and former trustee of the College Board and the American Council on Education. “McNally Smith is a place that has grown deliberately and organically, and I think is poised now to make even greater impact. I’m excited to have an opportunity to play a role in their — now our — future.”

McPherson is a powerhouse of experience. He is the fifth President of the Spencer Foundation, which investigates the ways in which education, broadly conceived, can be improved around the world and is dedicated to the belief that research is necessary to the improvement in education through high quality research, training and fellowship programs and related activities.

He is also a nationally known economist with expertise on the interplay between education and economics. McPherson spent the 22 years prior to his Macalester presidency as professor of economics, chairman of the Economics Department, and dean of faculty at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He was also founding co-editor of the journal Economics and Philosophy and has served as a trustee of the College Board and the American Council on Education, as well as President of the Board of Overseers of TIAA-CREF. McPherson also has been a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

He holds a B.A. in Mathematics, an M.A. in Economics, and a Ph.D. in Economics, all from the University of Chicago. He is the co-author and editor of several books, including:

  • Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities
  • College Access: Opportunity or Privilege?
  • Keeping College Affordable
  • Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy