Meet the Leaders Ready to Change the World of Higher Ed


How can we make effective instruction a guarantee for every student? And, how can leaders work together to solidify effective teaching’s rightful place at the core of our nation’s student success and equity agenda?

A ‘small group of thoughtful and committed’ leaders grappled with these big questions earlier this month at the inaugural ACUE Leadership Summit, held in Colorado. The convening brought together, for the first time, new members of ACUE’s Advisory Board, whose charge is to shape and advance ACUE’s core mission: student success and equity through quality instruction, in every class.

The diverse and dynamic group is made up of college and university presidents and provosts, expert faculty, and directors of teaching and learning. They represent community colleges, state systems of higher education, private liberal arts institutions, research universities, and national associations. They are:

  • Tracie Addy, PhD, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning, Lafayette College
  • Levy Brown, EdD, Senior Vice President and CAO, North Carolina Community College System
  • Teresa (Terry) Brown, PhD, Vice President of Academic Innovation and Transformation, American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)
  • Amy Chasteen, PhD, Executive Vice Provost, The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Marielena DeSanctis, PhD, President, Community College of Denver
  • Debra Fowler, PhD, CETL Director, Texas A&M University
  • Scott Furlong, PhD, Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs, SUNY Oswego
  • Grant Goold, PhD, Program Director, American River College
  • Ellen Junn, PhD, President, California State University, Stanislaus
  • Rebecca Karoff, PhD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, The University of Texas System
  • Rebecca Martin, PhD, Executive Director, National Association of System Heads (NASH)
  • Jim Murdaugh, PhD, President, Tallahassee Community College
  • Laura Ortiz, EdD, Dean for Faculty Development and Engagement, Waubonsee Community College
  • Kristina Ruiz-Mesa, PhD, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, California State University, Los Angeles
  • Pamela Scott-Johnson, PhD, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Monmouth University
  • Phil Sisson, EdD, President, Middlesex Community College
  • Robert Vela, EdD, President, Texas A&M University, Kingsville
  • Amber C. Ward, EdD, MEd, Associate Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Delaware State University

Also joining were key higher education leaders who have shaped ACUE’s past and present and added their national perspectives on ACUE’s future. They are: 

  • Derrick Anderson, Senior Vice President of the Learning and Engagement Division, American Council on Education
  • Farhad Asghar, Program Officer,  Carnegie Corporation of New York
  • Elizabeth Holcombe, Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate, Pullias Center for Higher Education/University of Southern California
  • Eduardo J. Padrón, PhD (founding advisor), President Emeritus, Miami Dade College
  • Kevin P. Reilly, PhD (founding advisor), President Emeritus, University of Wisconsin
  • Laura Rittner, Executive Director of the Success Center at the Ohio Association of Community Colleges
  • Maxine Roberts, Executive Director, Strong Start to Finish
  • Matt Sapienza, Chief Financial Officer, American Council of Learned Societies
  • Henry Stoever, President and CEO, Association of Governing Board of University and Colleges 
  • Steve Taylor, Senior Fellow, Stand Together Trust

At the summit, Dr. Penny MacCormack, ACUE’s Chief Academic Officer, welcomed the group, emphasizing how ACUE’s direction benefits from their perspectives. “You represent and serve the students, the families, the faculty that look like the whole of our country,” she said. “You know what good teaching looks like and feels like. And, you also recognize that good teaching is a driver of equity.”

Over a day and a half, discussions focused on overcoming barriers and gearing up to create the groundswell necessary to take quality teaching to scale at every college, for every student. The meeting’s agenda was modeled after ACUE’s course design; complete with think-pair-shares, share-outs, and exit slips.

Dr. Eduardo Padrón, a founding ACUE advisory board member and president emeritus at Miami Dade College (MDC), shared the story of ACUE’s origins and how MDC’s partnership with ACUE was faculty-driven and grew largely by word-of-mouth. “I was very moved by the fact that the faculty, without any pushing from anyone in the administration, decided that was important to do and felt pride in doing what they were doing because they saw the results with their students,” said Dr. Padrón.

Dr. Kevin Reilly, also an ACUE founding advisory board member and president emeritus of the University of Wisconsin, shared his experiences being on the initial team working with the American Council on Education (ACE) to vet ACUE’s first program. He said he was compelled by ACUE’s integrity, research backing, and unique focus on preparing faculty, which he described as desperately needed in higher education.

From those early beginnings, ACUE has led a national effort to promote student success through evidence-based instruction at colleges and universities. Today, ACUE has come a long way, credentialing more than 21,000 instructors to teach with practices that improve student achievement and close equity gaps, reaching 2 million students every year, and partnering with more than 450 institutions to date. But ACUE still has a long way to go to ensure all students experience quality teaching that enables them to graduate at higher levels and more prepared for their future. 

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