Fifty-Two Emerging Higher Education Leaders Named to ACE Fellows Program
March 03, 2021

​ACE has selected 52 emerging college and university leaders for the 2021-22 class of the ACE Fellows Program, the longest-running leadership development program in the United States.

Since its inception in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program has strengthened institutions in American higher education by identifying and preparing over 2,000 faculty, staff, and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership through its distinctive and intensive nominator-driven, cohort-based mentorship model. Of the Fellows who have participated to date, more than 80 percent have gone on after their fellowship to serve as chief executive officers, chief academic officers, other cabinet-level positions, and deans.

"ACE Fellows gain career-enriching experience in leadership, innovation, and problem-solving," said ACE President Ted Mitchell. "These are just the kind of skillsets that will be absolutely essential for moving higher education forward during difficult times."

Click here to see the members of the 2021-22 class of Fellows.

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, ACE made the difficult decision to defer the 2020-21 class of ACE Fellows, understanding that the Fellowship, specifically the placement aspect of the program, would be greatly impacted as senior leaders grappled with the unexpected challenges imposed by the pandemic. Despite the deferral, the ACE Fellows Program maintained engagement through topical virtual sessions and small group engagement with Fellows Program team members and program Sages, retired college and university president from diverse sectors. These ACE Fellows will join the new Fellows selected for the 2021-22 class. The combined 2021-22 class represents the diversity of this country’s higher education institutions by gender, race/ethnicity, institution type, and disciplinary background. The 2021-22 class contains a 2 to 1 ratio of women to men and nearly one-third of the class represents underrepresented groups.

The class also reflects a rich array of geographies and institutional missions, including two Fellows from service academies, one from an international institution, five from local (DC and Maryland) institutions, two from faith-based institutions, and two from organizations or institutions with special missions, such as the National Science Foundation. Nearly half of the class comes from private institutions.

“I am pleased to welcome this new class of Fellows. The unique composition of the cohort and the lessons they have learned during this past year will present us with some very exciting engagement and learning opportunities,” said Sherri Lind Hughes, assistant vice president, ACE Professional Learning. “The ACE Fellows Program is excited to be part of their leadership journey this year and into the future.”

ACE, Lumina Foundation, and education and technology company Cengage have partnered to offer this unique learning experience and a generous grant to selected ACE Fellows who are interested in addressing educational quality and equity in student success as part of their Fellowship. Additionally, a scholarship bestowed by Cengage will cover the entire program cost for one participant as part of an effort to support the professional development of individuals from diverse backgrounds who are bringing positive change to higher education and to further diversify the program’s pipeline to higher education leadership.

The program combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, visits to campuses and other higher education-related organizations, and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year.

During the placement, Fellows observe and work with the president and other senior officers at their host institution, attend decision-making meetings, and focus on issues of interest. The year ahead will present many opportunities for ACE Fellows to gain an even closer view of leadership in action. Placement institutions will have the benefit of an experienced leader who can lend a fresh perspective to emerging or ongoing institutional challenges.

At the conclusion of the Fellowship year, Fellows return to their home institution with new knowledge and skills that contribute to capacity-building efforts, along with a network of peers across the country and abroad.

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