40. James Wagner

James Wagner
Illustration by Alex Fine

Focus Education
Age 62
The president of Emory University since 2003 and an engineer by training, Wagner serves on the board at the Carter Center and in 2009 was appointed by Obama as vice chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. In 2012 he wrapped up a seven-year fundraising campaign that netted $1.7 billion for the college, which ranks among the top dozen private universities by size of endowment. Around the same time, he shifted Emory’s focus toward research, eliminating degree programs for visual art and journalism.

Stormy weather Wagner survived calls for his ouster from students and faculty in early 2013 after he published a controversial column defending the Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787.

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This article originally appeared in our October 2015 issue.