Past Presidents


John E. Corbally

MacArthur Foundation President
1979–1989
Former President of the University of Illinois

As board member, and later as president, John E. Corbally helped shape the Foundation’s intellectual, scientific, and research tone through early programs including the MacArthur Fellows, support for public radio, and investments in peace and security, mental health, and the environment. He also steered the board through the process of divesting Bankers Life and Casualty assets.



Adele E. Simmons
MacArthur Foundation President
1989–1999
Former President of Hampshire College

Adele E. Simmons established the Foundation’s global reach, opening offices in Russia to strengthen universities and policy institutes, and launching the Population Program with field offices in Mexico, Nigeria, Brazil, and India. She increased collaboration with other foundations, completed the transfer of management from the board to the staff, and combined nine separate Foundation programs into four — international, domestic, General, and Fellows.



Jonathan F. Fanton

MacArthur Foundation President
1999–2009
Former President of New School University

Jonathan F. Fanton deepened investment in some of the Foundation’s most promising areas of work including human rights and international justice, juvenile justice, affordable housing, and community and economic development. He sought out and supported major new ideas, such as the Encyclopedia of Life and the Law and Neuroscience Project, and emphasized fewer grants but for larger amounts and longer periods of time to increase the impact of MacArthur’s grantmaking.