Dr Tom Kessinger
Dr Tom Kessinger

In 1961, Tom G. Kessinger dropped out of college to join the Peace Corps.  He was selected to be a member of the first group of volunteers to go to India working in community development in the Punjab, a northern state bordering Pakistan. In 1965 he entered the PhD program in history and anthropology at the University of Chicago focused on South Asia.  His doctoral research, conducted in India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom, was the reconstruction of the social and economic history of an Indian village employing the research methods of history, anthropology, and cultural studies.  He was a tenured member of the faculty at the Universities of Virginia and Pennsylvania between 1971 and 1976.
In 1977, he joined the staff of the Ford Foundation in its office in New Delhi, India, as a Program Officer in Education and Culture responsible for activities in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.  Two years later, he was appointed the Foundation’s Representative in its office in Jakarta, Indonesia, with oversight of all of its development programs.  From 1981, he was put in charge of the Foundation’s programs in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.  In 1987, he returned to the Foundation’s New Delhi office as the Regional Representative for South Asia.

In 1988, he was elected the eleventh President of Haverford College, and over the next eight years led the college through a period of expansion of the faculty, the construction of new facilities, and the addition of more than $100 million to the College’s endowment.

Dr. Kessinger resigned from his position as President of Haverford in 1996 to become the General Manager of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva, Switzerland, where he managed a group of architects, conservation engineers, designers and city planners who conduct activities designed to enhance the quality of the built environment in historic cities in Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East and North Africa.

In January 2002, he took on the role of General Manager of the Aga Khan Foundation, responsible for overseeing the Foundation’s work world-wide retiring from this position in 2013. He is the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University since 2009 and was appointed as Chairman pro tem in April 2014.