That’s a Wrap on ACE2022, ACE’s Annual Meeting in San Diego
March 10, 2022

Close to 900 members and leaders of the higher education community convened in San Diego for the first in-person ACE Annual Meeting since the pandemic. 

Despite a cold front that brought in temperatures a little lower than expected, the warmth of being together with peers for the first time in three years was felt over three days of presentations that included plenaries, concurrent sessions and networking opportunities.

The meeting, which concluded Monday, featured a focus on access to higher education and a special standing room only session highlighting ACE’s newly announced collaboration with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to create the next incarnation of the Carnegie Classifications.

At the Women’s Leadership Dinner Saturday evening, which was sponsored by TIAA and Storbeck Search/Diversified Search Group, Thasunda Brown Duckett, TIAA president and CEO, gave the keynote address, and the 2022 ACE Donna Shavlik Award was presented to Deborah F. Stanley, interim chancellor of The State University of New York (SUNY) and former longtime president of SUNY Oswego.

Below are brief summaries of the key plenary sessions and more:

Opening Luncheon Plenary: Kristen Soltis Anderson and Sylvia Burwell

ACE President Ted Mitchell and outgoing ACE Board Chair Ronald A. Crutcher both paid tribute to the brave people of Ukraine and their fight against the unprovoked Russian invasion during the Opening Plenary, with Crutcher calling for a moment of silence as he opened the session. 

Opening Plenary speaker Kristen Soltis Anderson, a pollster, speaker, commentator, and author of The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials Are Leading America (And How Republicans Can Keep Up), took the stage during the Opening Plenary, which was sponsored by Fidelity Investments, to engage in a conversation with Sylvia M. Burwell, president of American University and an ACE Board member. 

Asked by Burwell what institutions need to change in how they communicate about their mission, Anderson responded that colleges and universities should focus on how they and their students are making a tangible contribution as a result of their education. They also discussed how parents’ concerns about children losing ground academically and their mental health have increased during the course of the pandemic, with a lot of parents feeling concerned about whether their child is on the right path for the future.

Also at the Opening Luncheon Plenary, ACE and Fidelity Investments presented the Institutional Transformation Award to the University of North Dakota and MassBay Community College.

Robert H. Atwell Plenary: William R. Harvey

William R. Harvey, president of Hampton University for more than four decades, delivered the Robert H. Atwell Address, named by the ACE Board of Directors for the former ACE president who served from 1984 to 1996. He spoke during the Atwell Plenary, which was sponsored by Fidelity Investments, about the importance of leadership in determining the success of an institution and its students, saying that success is defined by effective leadership and the ability to work as a team. He noted that 17 Hampton vice presidents have gone on to become presidents of other institutions. 

“The team is the dream. Not I, but we,” Harvey said.

Southern Connecticut State University President Joe Bertolino was also awarded the Council of Fellows/Fidelity Investments Mentor Award and new ACE Fellow Phyllis Esposito, of Everett Community College, received the Cengage–ACE Inclusion Scholarship.

Esposito leads the college’s Equity and Social Justice Division and works with constituents to ensure historically underserved and underrepresented communities experience equitable aspiration, access, achievement, engagement, and economic progress. This scholarship recognizes her sustained commitment to educational quality and equity in student success. 

ACE, Carnegie Discuss the Future of the Carnegie Classifications Systems

During a special session Monday morning, Mitchell and Tim Knowles, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, discussed how the two organizations will be collaborating to create the next incarnation of the Carnegie Classifications.

For the first time, the Universal and Elective Classifications will be brought together in a single organizational home at ACE. The two organizations will also work together to develop new and refined versions of the Classifications to better reflect the public purpose, mission, focus, and impact of higher education. Los Angeles Times reporter Teresa Watanabe interviewed Knowles and Mitchell as part of the panel discussion. 

Included in that work will be the development of a new classification examining the extent to which institutions of higher education address their public purpose by enabling social and economic mobility nationwide. To be launched in 2023, the Social and Economic Mobility Classification will reflect an institution’s commitment to and success in achieving those goals while effectively serving a diverse, inclusive student populace. 

Mitchell noted during the session that there is nothing wrong with an institution putting a lot of energy and resources into becoming a “R1” research institution, the Carnegie Classification that recognizes the largest research universities, but there is if it causes an institution to move away from doing what it does well. “We want to create lanes of excellence that recognize colleges and universities for what they do well now,” Mitchell said.

Knowles said that economic mobility and income inequality are getting worse and driving a wedge into not just our economy but our democracy and social fabric, raising big questions. The postsecondary education sector is an engine for economic and social mobility, but the question is how to elevate and amplify those institutions that are doing that work as systematically as possible, and whether we are learning from those institutions, he indicated.

Monday Luncheon Plenary: Journalist Maria Hinojosa Focuses on Role of Higher Ed in Helping Undocumented Students 

Maria Hinojosa, anchor and executive producer of the Peabody Award-winning show Latino USA, delivered the Monday Luncheon Plenary, bringing in her perspectives teaching college students, saying what they value is an “authentic experience.”

She also asked attendees to be aware of how they talked about students from immigrant or undocumented families, and ask them to vocally refute data that immigrants are dangerous or a threat to society.

“We should be taking care of undocumented students in higher ed. We all have students who have lived through being separated from their parents, who have been taken by immigration officials. We must be there for them,” Hinojosa said.”

At the start of the plenary, TIAA Institute presented the 2022 Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence in Higher Education to Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) President Alex Johnson.

Closing Plenary Discusses How a Better Online Environment Can Improve Access for Students

The Closing Plenary session, sponsored by the Eos Foundation, kicked off with the presentation of the Student of the Year Awards to Giovanna Grantham and Casey Dunn, ​as well as the Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award to Carlos O. Cortez, chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. 

The final plenary speakers focused on how higher education pivoted quickly to primarily online learning in the spring and fall of 2020. While challenges inevitably arose, so did opportunities. That was the message from Ajita Talwalker Menon, president, and CEO of Calbright College, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of California Community Colleges, and Scott D. Pulsipher, president of Western Governors University. Even colleges and universities that transitioned relatively smoothly have a lot to learn about how to integrate online learning into their campuses, they said.

They also discussed the value of closing the skills gap in higher education. "If you are about value, you have to connect education to work. It's the last mile," said Pulsipher. But also added, “If you don’t think liberal arts teaches skills then you have too narrow of a definition of skill. Most of the top in-demand skills by employers are human skills.”

Mitchell also thanked Chairman Crutcher for his service as ACE Board Chair and welcomed Michael Rao, president of Virginia Commonwealth University, who now begins his term as chair of the ACE Board of Directors.

ACE will be holding its next Annual Meeting, ACE2023, in Washington, DC, April 13-15. 

​Save the Date for ACE2023

April 13-15, 2023 | Washington, DC

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