ACE Fellows Explore What It Takes to Lead at Opening Retreat
August 15, 2019

The 2019-20 class of ACE Fellows engaged in an immersive week-long retreat earlier this month in Hartford, Connecticut to jumpstart their year of leadership development.

The retreat opened with a discussion on the challenges and opportunities of the demographic changes impacting U.S. higher education, followed by an overview of post-traditional learners and the influences on and impediments to their continuing education. A series of active learning experiences led by staff from Education Design Lab, which focuses on designing models of learning from the learner perspective, closed out the day and gave the Fellows a chance to unpack complex issues.

Later in the week, the Fellows visited six nearby institutions to learn about their various missions and values, student success and diversity programs, and business models and methods of initiative prioritization. After the site visits, they engaged in a conversation with Daisy Cocco De Filippis, president of Naugatuck Valley Community College, and Mary Ellen Jukoski, president of Three Rivers Community College, moderated by M. Valeriana Moeller, president emeritus of Columbus State Community College, to further understand the impact and value of higher education in the community college sector.

Members of the 2019-20 class of ACE Fellows built great connections during the opening retreat.

The latter half of the retreat focused on a multi-day capstone activity, dubbed the Fairweather College Case. John Marx, ACE Fellow 2018-19 and professor and department chair of English at the University of California, introduced the premise of the exercise. Fellows then heard from Nicholas Santilli, ACE Fellow 2003-04 and senior director of learning strategy at the Society for College and University Planning, about integrated university planning. Through group work, innovative thinking, and problem solving, they developed a strategy for the prototypical “Fairweather” College and presented their final product on the last day of the retreat.

Finally, Joe Bertolino, ACE Fellow 2010-11 and president of Southern Connecticut State University, led a transparent and inspiring discussion with the Fellows on how to best navigate their Fellowship year. He shared stories and best practices on how Fellows could and should interact with their nominator and mentor(s).

The 2019-20 Class of Fellows will meet again in January for a mid-year retreat focusing on diversity and inclusion, as well as budget and finance. Their closing retreat will take place in June.

ACE is currently accepting members of the 2020-21 class of Fellows. For additional information, please contact