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CAO Briefing: September-October 2017

September 01, 2017

CAO Briefing


Welcome to CAO Briefing, ACE's bi-monthly news roundup for chief academic officers. ACE is starting off the new semester with a new president, Ted Mitchell, who began his tenure Sept. 1. A former college president and most recently under secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, reporting to the secretary of education and overseeing postsecondary education policies and programs, Ted’s vision and in-depth knowledge of higher education makes him a great choice to lead ACE into the future, and we are excited about our upcoming centennial year under his leadership.

Continue sending your news tips and feedback on CAO Briefing to Sherri Lind Hughes, director, ACE Leadership. For those of you on Twitter, follow ACE at @ACEducation and ACE Leadership at @LeadershipACE. And please forward this link to your colleagues and friends so they can subscribe to CAO Briefing.


How Empathy Adds to a Leader's Power: Daniel Goleman writes for Korn Ferry Institute that empathy can be a powerful management tool, a way to gather information about the people around you. Given how much of a leader’s job is managing relationships, leaders who lack empathy miss information that could be crucial for their own—and their organization’s—success.

Five Tips to Become an Authentic Leader: For many leaders, the transition into a senior leadership role is marked by a period of self-doubt. Faced with this uncertainty, leaders naturally look for models they can emulate. But imitating the leadership styles of others may not be the best way to go, according to a recent piece in Kellogg Insight. The key is to be authentic—to draw from one’s own experiences, values and strengths.

12 Stressful Things You Need to Stop Tolerating Right Now: Some forms of stress are necessary to stimulate creativity and new learning. Other forms serve only to prevent us from being effective or successful. INC. lists a dozen of the worst sources of bad stress. Master these sources, and ideally you'll find that you're more productive and calmer.

Changing the Culture for Better Results: If the culture at your college is all about not fixing what’s not broken, you may have a challenge ahead of you as you try to suggest and implement some needed change. Ellie Schlam of the Touro College and University System (NY) offers tips for shaking things up in a change-averse environment.

Are You Taking the Time Off That You Need? Too often we allow constant busyness and the threat of looming deadlines to keep us from taking vacation, which has consequences for everyone: our staff, our institutions, and ourselves. Most Americans don’t use all of their vacation days—in 2016 alone, they forfeited the equivalent of $66.4 billion in time off, effectively donating an average of $604 to their employers. What’s holding us back?

Advice on Being a Good Team Leader: There are many parallels between running a research lab and leading teams in various other settings, including nonprofits. Drawing upon her own experiences, Adriana Bankston, member of the board of directors at Future of Research, which supports early-career scientists, offers advice for being a good team leader both in academe and outside it.

Academic Affairs

Getting Resourceful: How Administrators Can Generate Alternative Sources of Revenue: Colleges and universities have long run businesses—such as bookstores and food services—as a convenience for students and staff members. But with most public institutions no longer able to cover all of their costs through tuition and state funding alone, many have become more intentional about generating additional revenue, for example, creating partnerships with a companies to build a joint-use facility or for-profit workforce training programs. The key: encouraging faculty members to support the idea and recruiting higher education leaders who also have experience in the private sector.

How Micro Experiences Strengthen Student Engagement: Student affairs professionals and educators have the ability to transform the college student experience. Using the theory of micro experiences—or meeting the students where they’re at—this post on the blog Presence looks at how to focus on quality of student interaction and student engagement rather than quantity.

Higher Education Policy

By now most of you likely have heard the news that the Trump administration is rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the policy that allows certain individuals who came to the United States as children to stay in the country and obtain temporary work permits. In the wake of DACA’s rollback, ACE has prepared an issue brief detailing the key elements of the administration’s “DACA Rescission Memorandum” and how it will impact students and campuses. Also see the following articles and op-eds:

Colleges Deplore Trump’s Threat to DACA. How Far Can They Go to Fight It? (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

A Typical ‘Dreamer’ Lives in Los Angeles, Is From Mexico and Came to the U.S. at 6 Years Old (The New York Times)

Ending DACA Will Upend Thousands of Lives. Here’s How It Already Upended One. (The Washington Post)

What Major Universities Had to Say About Trump’s Move to Roll Back DACA (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Janet Napolitano: Why I'm Suing the Trump Administration Over DACA (Los Angeles Times)

Jose Antonio Vargas: ‘Dreamers’ Put Their Trust in DACA. What Now? (The New York Times)

The Military Looked to ‘Dreamers’ to Use Their Vital Skills. Now the U.S. Might Deport Them. (The Washington Post)

New Reports

Pulling Back the Curtain: Enrollment and Outcomes at Minority Serving Institutions: Minority serving institutions (MSIs) play a critical role in American society, providing access to postsecondary education for millions of students of color who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The analysis in this first-of-its-kind report from ACE uses National Student Clearninghouse data to examine how students who started college at an MSI in 2007 moved through higher education, concluding that completion rates for MSIs are higher than the federal graduation rate suggests, and in some cases substantially so.

Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago: Equitable access to a higher education remains elusive. A recent New York Times article revealed that Black and Hispanic freshman are more underrepresented at the nation’s elite colleges today than they were 35 years ago. Using fall enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the authors analyzed 100 schools ranging from public flagship universities to the Ivy League. Despite decades of affirmative action, the analysis revealed that the share of black students at elite schools has remained relatively constant since 1980, while the share of Hispanic students attending elite schools has declined.

Assessing Food Insecurity on Campus: This new report from The Urban Institute finds that the food insecurity rate is 13.3 percent for households with students enrolled in two-year colleges. This means that nearly one in five two-year college students lives in a food-insecure household. The study for the first time quantifies food insecurity on a national scale, seeking to expand on previous studies that surveyed individual campuses to get a snapshot of the problem around the country. Also check out this recent blog post from Wick Sloane, a professor at Bunker Hill Community College (MA), on what his campus is doing to help students have adequate access to food and how other institutions can address the problem.

Opening Doors—How Selective Colleges and Universities Are Expanding Access for High-Achieving, Low-Income Students: Elite colleges and universities can increase the number of high-achieving, low-income students who attend by taking simple steps to reduce burdensome fees and improve transparency, according to this new report from the Jack Kent Cook Foundation. In addition to identifying common challenges, “Opening Doors” provides a road map for how top colleges can reverse the trend, calling on selective institutions to learn from the best practices of elite colleges that have already opened their doors wider to outstanding low-income students.

On the heels of the June release of ACE’s American College President Study 2017 (ACPS), a new interactive data explorer uses historical data from the ACPS to calculate when the percentage of women presidents and the percentages of minority presidents will mirror their representation in the general U.S. population. The site also breaks down the data in key areas of the report, including the summary profile, women presidents, minority presidents and diversity and inclusion issues. Users can easily download charts, tables and data points to print or share directly to their social media channels.

ACE Events

Invest in Your Team, Invest in the Future. Prioritizing professional development for both you and your team is critical to having a strong core of institutional leaders in the years to come. ACE has programs to help you do just that. More information can be found at

90th National Women’s Leadership Forum, Dec. 6-8 in Arlington, VA. For senior-level women administrators (typically deans and above), the forum fosters discussions with women presidents and executive search consultants who help participants develop effective search strategies.

Executive Forum for Leading Internationalization, Nov. 6 in Washington, DC. ACE will hold its annual meeting of college and university presidents, CAOs, and senior international officers under the theme “Bridging the Local and the Global.” Participants will examine how institutions can strengthen connections between their internationalization goals and local communities, including ways in which senior leaders can communicate the value of their global engagement activities to an array of stakeholders in the region. Campus teams are encouraged to participate and discounts are available for groups of three.

Is there a member of your team or in your institution who shows great leadership promise? Nominate them for the 2018-19 cohort of the ACE Fellows Program. For the institution that nominates an ACE Fellow, it is an opportunity to build institutional capacity and reap the benefit of a Fellow’s newfound knowledge, skills and relationships while contributing to expanding the pipeline of future higher education leaders. The application is due Nov. 1. For more information or to speak directly with an ACE Fellows Program staff member, please call the ACE Leadership office at 202-939-9376 or email us at

ACE-NASH Leadership Academy, Jan. 17-18, 2018, in Washington, DC. Designed specifically for leadership teams inside of state systems, ACE and the National Association of System Heads (NASH) have created this new program to focus on one of the highest priorities facing our systems and campuses: improving student success. Institutions are encouraged to send a total of 3-5 members of the leadership team from the system and selected campuses.

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