Robert Edwards

Robert H. Edwards was Carleton’s seventh president, serving from 1977-1986 following the departure of president Swearer. His replacement was Professor David Porter, who served as interim president for one year before the selection of Stephen Lewis.


Edwards did his undergraduate work at Princeton, earned an LLB at Harvard and read law at Cambridge University. He worked in Pakistan with the Ford Foundation beginning in 1968 and later became head of their Middle East and Africa Office.

Edwards served as Carleton’s president from 1977 to 1986. During his presidency, he was instrumental in creating the “Science, Technology and Public Policy” program, now known as ENTS. The Library was significantly expanded and remodeled during his tenure as well. Upon his departure from Carleton in 1986, the college granted him an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.


After Carleton, Edwards returned to Pakistan, going to Karachi to join the Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan, heading the Department of Health, Education and Housing. He served on the board of trustees of Aga Khan University from 1987-1990.

From 1990-2001, he served as president of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. He continued his work with Aga Khan University and was reappointed to the board of AKU in 1999. Following his presidency at Bowdoin, he became actively involved with developing an undergraduate liberal arts program at AKU. In October of 2001, he was forced to cancel a trip to Karachi due to the U.S. campaign in nearby Afghanistan.


President Edwards and his immediate predecessor, president Swearer, have several items in common:

Both were undergraduates at Princeton
Both earned advanced degrees from Harvard
Both worked for the Ford Foundation immediately prior to becoming Carleton’s president
Both served as president of a New England college after they left Carleton


Brief biography from
Biography from Aga Khan University
“Edwards Cancels Pakistan Trip” from the Bowdoin Orient Online, 10/26/2001.

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