Benno C. Schmidt, Jr. is among the world's leading innovators in primary, secondary, and tertiary education. He joined the Kauffman Foundation as a Trustee in February 2007. In 2012, Schmidt served as the Foundation's interim president and CEO while the board conducted a search for a permanent leader.
Schmidt is the chairman of Avenues, The World School, in New York City. He is also chairman of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY), the largest urban public university in the world. Schmidt led Mayor Giuliani's Task Force on CUNY, and in 1999 authored a report that provided the blueprint for CUNY's extraordinary renaissance.
In 2005, Schmidt led an elite task force in Kansas City to develop recommendations to advance higher education and research. The group explored ways to achieve that goal through partnerships between business, philanthropists, and civic organizations.
Chairman of Edison Schools since 1997, Schmidt served as Edison's chief executive officer from 1992 to 1998. Prior to joining Edison, Schmidt was president of Yale University from 1986 to 1992; under his leadership, Yale's endowment grew at a higher rate than all other private universities. He developed a model public/private partnership between the University and the city of New Haven, led one of Yale's largest building initiatives, and helped create several interdisciplinary programs in environmental sciences and policy, and in international studies.
Prior to his term at Yale, Schmidt was dean of the Columbia University Law School. He was named Harlan Fiske Stone professor of Constitutional Law in 1982. In his fourth year on the faculty in 1973, he became one of the youngest professors to receive tenure in Columbia's history. Schmidt is recognized as a leading scholar of the First Amendment, the history of race relations in American law, and the history of the Supreme Court. Schmidt is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School. He was a law clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren; and, prior to joining the Columbia Law School faculty, he served for two years in the Department of Justice.