S. Alan Ray has served as president of Elmhurst College since July 2008. A Harvard-trained student of theology and a scholar of federal Indian law, President Ray has written and taught on religion, philosophy and Native American issues. He is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. In 2010 President Obama appointed him to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education.
Before coming to Elmhurst, President Ray worked for 12 years in academic administration, first at Harvard Law School and then at the University of New Hampshire. He also has practiced law in Los Angeles and Boston.
At Elmhurst, President Ray has a joint faculty appointment in the political science and religious studies departments, with the title professor of religion and society.
President Ray points to Elmhurst's tradition of combining the liberal arts and professional preparation when asked what first intrigued him about the College. “We think about how the things we learn can be related to the world beyond college,” he says. “That's unlike some liberal-arts colleges that have an almost monastic model of education, in which the real world is at some distance from learning. We don't have the problem of reconciling reflection and action. Here, reflection and action have always gone hand in hand.”
President Ray holds a Ph.D. in the study of religion from Harvard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He also earned a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School. A former Roman Catholic seminarian, he earned a B.A. summa cum laude in philosophy from St. Thomas Seminary in Denver.
President Ray and his wife, Angela Katsos Ray, have three young children and live in Elmhurst.
In September of 2014, President Ray announced that he will conclude his tenure as President of Elmhurst College on June 30, 2015.