Jonathan F. Fanton became president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on September 1, 1999. Previously, he had been president of the New School for Social Research in New York City for 17 years.
With assets of over $6.4 billion, MacArthur is one of the nation’s largest foundations. It makes grants and program-related investments in the United States and abroad totaling more than $260 million annually. Domestically, its programs encompass community development, housing, juvenile justice, and education, with a focus on digital media and learning. Internationally, it works in the fields of human rights and international justice, biodiversity conservation, population and reproductive health, international peace and security, and migration and human mobility. The Foundation works in 65 countries and has offices in India, Russia, Nigeria, and Mexico. The Foundation also funds public radio and television and the making of independent documentaries. The Foundation is well known for its support of exceptionally creative individuals through the MacArthur Fellows Program.
At Yale University, Mr. Fanton earned a baccalaureate degree in 1965, a master’s in philosophy in 1977, and a doctorate in American History in 1978. At Yale, he taught American history, was special assistant to president Kingman Brewster from 1970 to 1973 and associate provost from 1976 to 1978. From 1978 to 1982, he was vice president for planning at the University of Chicago, where he also taught American history.
As president of the New School for Social Research from 1982 to 1999, he led the integration and enhancement of the seven divisions of the university, expansion of the Greenwich Village campus, and development campaigns that increased the university’s endowment ten-fold. During his tenure, the New School merged with the Mannes College of Music, established a drama school in partnership with the Actor’s Studio, merged with the World Policy Institute, added a jazz and contemporary music program, a teacher education program, a creative writing program, and an architecture department at Parsons School of Design.