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New! NAC&U to Present Posthumous Award to Bobby Fong

Photo of Bobby FongIn September 2014 the higher education community mourned the loss of Bobby Fong, then president of Ursinus College. Members of The New American Colleges & Universities were especially saddened to learn the news about Dr. Fong who was an important contributor to the consortium when he served as president of Butler University. NAC&U leaders knew Dr. Fong as an extraordinary colleague who had a steadfast commitment to liberal education, believing that higher education was more than earning a degree and rather served to prepare students to lead lives of service. To honor Dr. Fong’s legacy to NAC&U and higher education, we will offer a special posthumous award to him. His wife, Suzanne Fong, will accept the award at the AAC&U Annual Meeting on January 23 in Washington DC. Dr. James Gentile, dean of Natural and Applied Science at Hope College, will offer a tribute to Dr. Fong and his many accomplishments in higher education.

NAC&U Presents Boyer Award to Ed Ayers at AAC&U Annual Meeting

Photo of Presiden Guarsci and Dr. AyersNAC&U presented the annual Boyer Award to Dr. Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and nationally renowned American historian, at AAC&U’s Annual Meeting. Ayers was selected because of his extensive work in the field of digital humanities scholarship, which has far-reaching impact on both faculty and students as well as the general public. Listen to a podcast of Dr. Ayer’s lecture on “The Future of Scholarship” following the award presentation.

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Edward L. Ayers
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Robin Heyden
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David Asai
NAC&U Announces Speakers for 2014 Summer Institute

NAC&U will hosts its annual Summer Institute at the University of Redlands, Redlands, CA, on June 25 - 27, 2014. We are proud to announce that this year’s speakers will be Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and a noted historian and author; Robin Heyden, an educational consultant and blogger of how new media tools affect education; and David Asai, senior director of science education programs at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The theme is ‘Creating Community through Collaboration,’ and the focus will be NAC&U’s new initiative to provide new opportunities for students and faculty through collaboration among members. The New American Academic Community is a creative and innovative way to realize the promise of consortial collaboration – which is often aspired to in the abstract but seldom realized in practice. 

NAAC’s operational assumption that “my student is your student” is the key to its success, for it enables members to leverage their collective assets to the benefit of all students – and thus all institutions.  The Summer Institute will explore possibilities to enhance the educational experience through collaboration among NAC&U members, with campuses, and between campuses and their communities. Presentations may describe existing projects or may engage conference participants in working sessions to develop new ideas for collaboration. Read more.

NAC&U Selects Dr. Edward Ayers as Ernest Boyer Award Winner

Photo of Carol Geary Schneider
Edward L. Ayers

NAC&U is pleased to present its 4th annual Ernest L. Boyer Award to Edward L. Ayers, Ph.D., president of the University of Richmond and nationally renowned American historian. The official awards presentation will take place at the annual AAC&U Meeting, January 22-25, 2014, in Washington, DC.

To honor the memory of Ernest Boyer, each year NAC&U recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to higher education and whose ideas will be celebrated for generations to come. Ayers was selected because of his extensive work in the field of digital scholarship, which has far-reaching impact on both faculty and students as well as the general public.

Photo of book coverIn “Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate” (Jossey-Bass, 1990), Boyer wrote about the concept of scholarship and community, urging that research and academic work needed to extend beyond the campus and connect across disciplines. He imagined a national network of diverse campuses that would feed into this community of scholars, and he suggested that college presidents should leverage their positions and connections to help foster this innovation. Read more

Harold Wilde, NAC&U Founding Member, to Retire Next Week

Photo of Hal WildeThe last of the founding members of NAC&U, formerly ANAC when it began in 1995, will retire on December 31. Hal Wilde has served as president of North Central College (NCC) for more than 21 years. During his tenure, full-time enrollment doubled, the endowment increased 1000 percent, more than $200 million was raised, and 15 major building projects were completed. But most importantly for our organization, Wilde was one of eight or so people that first met on the porch of the NCC president's house in 1992. This informal meeting with Frank Wong, provost at The University of Redlands; Jerry Berberet, vice president of academic affairs at NCC; and others gave rise to a grant proposal that funded the Wingspread conference in which the idea for NAC&U was born. 

When NAC&U was first formed, its members asked, "What do we have in common? What makes us different? What can we learn from each other?" 

The conversation has advanced, but the essence of NAC&U remains. Wilde said that in some ways the organization was established to put a framework around existing convivial relationships. Yet as NAC&U has worked to become a voice in higher education, it is those close relationships among peer institutions that are still central to the organization. Wilde talked about the uniqueness of what makes NAC&U so effective at promoting these relationships among presidents and other affinity group members. He explained that while presidents have professional relationships outside of NAC&U, those exchanges involve some degree of competition. Within NAC&U, members are free to share data and ideas with the assurance that candid conversations are kept confidential.

Photo of new buildingWilde reflected on the term that is omnipresent in NAC&U founding literature: "the ugly duckling" of higher education as a way to describe private, comprehensive institutions that fit neither the mold of a large research institution or small liberal arts college. And that term implied that NAC&U members did not receive the respect they deserved because most did not have brand recognition on a national scale. There was a point at which Wilde realized that being a household name across the country wasn't the only thing a college should aspire to. Instead he grew proud of the fact that NAC&U institutions were reputable regional schools with strong brand names within 50 to 100 miles of their campuses. And he believes that because of this, most NAC&U institutions are doing better than the national rhetoric on higher education suggests.

When asked for parting words to incoming and new presidents, he bypassed the clichés and advised presidents to "fall in love with their institutions." Like any great love, he explained, there will be frustrations and bad times, but "90 to 95 percent of the time it's wonderful, and that's a good thing." He added, "If you allow yourself to embrace the institution, the payback is pretty extraordinary."

150th Anniversary SymbolWilde has been on the receiving end of some concentrated 'payback' during the last nine months since he announced his retirement. Always modest and ready to provide a laugh, Wilde said he is on his "obituary tour" as those around him celebrate his contributes to NCC and the Naperville community.

What's next for Wilde? He and wife Benna are "shrinking 43 years of marriage into 1200 square feet" as they move from the president's house in Naperville to a pied-à-terre on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. It's a difficult task, but he started by donating 3000 books to NCC. They'll move just days after hosting Christmas for their three children and their families. Beyond the moving boxes, Wilde plans to watch the Rose Bowl and read the new Jon Meacham biography on Thomas Jefferson from a new perch looking out over Lake Michigan. He's sad to leave behind his trainer at NCC but looks forward to a new workout routine in the city. He'll remain involved in some boards, work as a college counselor for students at charter schools and serve as a presidential consultant through a program NAC&U is launching. And while the material items accumulated in more than four decades of marriage will be condensed, Wilde plans to increase the time he spends with his wife and family.  

Hal, NAC&U thanks you for your vision and dedication. We wish you all the best in your retirement!

USNews Rankings: NAC&U Members Again Ranked Among Regional Bests; Several Cited as Best Values

US News Rankings IconU.S. News & World Report released its annual college rankings in its America’s Best Colleges issue in September. NAC&U highlights include:

  • Four members were ranked in the top five among regional universities: Butler University and Valparaiso University in the Midwest; Samford University and Stetson University in the South.
  • Six additional members were ranked in the top ten among regional universities: Belmont University in the South; Hamline University, John Carroll University, and the University of Evansville in the Midwest; Ithaca College and The University of Scranton in the North.
  • Seven members were listed as “Best Value Schools”: Butler, Hamline, John Carroll, Samford, Stetson, U of Evansville, Valparaiso, and Westminster College.
  • Five members were listed on the “Academic Programs to Look For” rankings. Wagner College was recognized for three of its programs: First Year Experience, Learning Communities, and Service Learning. John Carroll and Scranton were also recognized for Service Learning. Arcadia University and Butler were recognized for their Study Abroad programs.
  • Four members were on the “Up and Coming Schools” list: Belmont, Butler, Scranton, and Wagner.
  • Three members were listed among just a few regional universities for “Best Undergraduate Teaching”: Belmont, Butler, John Carroll.
  • Eight members were cited as universities that “welcome and challenge the serious B student with a desire to achieve,” on a list known as “A+ Schools for B Students”: Arcadia, Hamline, Nazareth College, Samford, Scranton, U of Evansville, Valparaiso, and Westminster.
  • Hampton University was ranked 4th on the Historically Black Colleges and Universities list.

Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research, Available for Download

The Council on Undergraduate Research recently published “Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research,” edited by NAC&U president Nancy Hensel. It includes comparisons of successful undergraduate research at different institutions, practical guidance for implementing and sustaining collaborative research at single institutions, and methods for encouraging undergraduate research within consortia. Full text is available online at no charge.

New American Colleges Increases Membership, Kicks off 16th Annual Summer Institute

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Widener University Logo

As the New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U) gathers for its 16th annual Summer Institute, its Board of Directors approved three new members – John Carroll University, University Heights, OH; Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY; and Widener University, Chester, PA – bringing the total number of members to 22 colleges and universities nationwide.

“Our newly elected members share our common goal of integrating classroom learning with real-world experience. We are pleased to have them join us as it will expand the breadth of knowledge and expertise within our consortium,” said Nancy Hensel, president of NAC&U. “We look forward to their input into our ongoing conversation on how NAC&U members can adapt to higher education’s changing landscape while staying true to our commitment to provide the best outcomes for our students.”

NAC&U members are small to mid-size, private, comprehensive institutions that intentionally integrate liberal education, professional studies and civic engagement. This integration allows students to fully engage in the college experience, enabling them to graduate with real-world experience gained through service learning, internships, study abroad, capstone projects, and extracurricular activities that mirror what is being learned in the classroom. Because of this commitment to integration, NAC&U members are consistently recognized for providing high value to their students. Recognition includes:

  • Nearly half of members were named Colleges of Distinction, among only 220 of “America’s best bets in higher education,” excelling in four areas of undergraduate education: student engagement in the educational process, great teaching, vibrant learning communities and successful outcomes. 
  • More than half of NAC&U members were featured among only 60 regional universities nationwide on U.S. News and World Report’s “Great Schools, Great Prices” list which calculated value by measuring academic quality against the net cost of attendance (based on average aid package). 
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance named several NAC&U members as best values in private colleges and universities for 2011-12.
  • Several are top producers of Fulbright recipients. Just this year, 26 graduates and six faculty members earned Fulbright awards.
  • More than half of NAC&U members are cited on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
  • Nine were cited among the top masters level universities for study abroad participation by the Institute for International Education.

Aside from its shared mission, one of the greatest advantages of the consortium is knowledge-sharing among like-minded institutions. Nowhere is this better seen than at the annual Summer Institute where integrated teams from each institution gather to listen to higher education thought leaders and share best practices with each other. It is an opportunity for faculty and administrators to network with colleagues throughout the consortium and with colleagues from their own campuses. This year, the Summer Institute includes speeches from higher education notables including Lloyd Armstrong, university professor and provost emeritus at the University of Southern California; John Gardner and Betsy Barefoot, co-founders of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education; and Stephen Chew, professor of psychology at Samford University and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Professor of the Year. The Summer Institute is being held June 20-22 at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. View photos from the Summer Institute.

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