Southern New Hampshire University President Paul J. LeBlanc Elected ACE Board Chair
December 12, 2019

​​​Paul J. LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), has been elected chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education (ACE), the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities.

LeBlanc was selected today during a webinar with ACE members and his term will begin in March 2020 after ACE2020, ACE’s 102nd Annual Meeting, March 14-16, in San Diego. He succeeds Mark P. Becker, president of Georgia State University, and will serve for one year. Before assuming the role of ACE Board chair, LeBlanc served as vice chair.

ACE's membership also elected Ronald A. Crutcher, president of the University of Richmond (VA), vice chair; and Michael Rao, president of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), secretary.

​“ACE works every day to convene, organize, mobilize, and lead advocacy efforts that shape effective public policy and help colleges and universities best serve their students, their communities, and the wider public good, and we value the commitment of these leaders to help us fulfill this mission,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “I deeply appreciate the willingness of Paul, Ron, and Michael, along with the entire ACE Board of Directors, to serve in this role, and thank Mark for his service.”

“As a first-generation college student, I know firsthand the importance of improving equity and expanding access to higher education, and helping institutions meet the needs of today’s learners.” LeBlanc said. “It is a privilege to serve as the chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education, an organization that is laser-focused on these goals, and an honor to join dynamic leaders like Mark Becker in accepting this responsibility.”

LeBlanc has been president of SNHU since 2003. Under his leadership, SNHU has grown from 2,500 students to over 135,000 learners around the world, making it the largest nonprofit provider of online higher education in the country and the first institution to have a full competency-based degree program untethered to the credit hour or classes approved by a regional accreditor and the U.S. Department of Education. Washington Monthly has named him one of America's 10 most innovative university presidents and he won the 2018 TIAA Institute Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence in Higher Education. He immigrated to the United States as a child, was the first person in his extended family to attend college, and is a graduate of Framingham State University (BA), Boston College (MA), and the University of Massachusetts (PhD).

Crutcher, a national leader in higher education and a distinguished classical musician and professor of music, became president and professor of music at the University of Richmond in 2015 after serving as president of Wheaton College (MA) for 10 years. Throughout his career, Crutcher has actively promoted access, affordability, and inclusive excellence. Under his leadership, the University of Richmond joined 30 of the nation’s most respected colleges and universities as charter members of the American Talent Initiative, whose goal is to increase socioeconomic diversity in higher education.

Rao has been president of VCU and the VCU Health System since 2009, and has continued to cement VCU’s place among the nation’s premier urban, public research universities. He has piloted strategic efforts focused on academic quality, student success, and research, that foster regional economic development and improve lives. Rao leads a national research university with a leading academic medical center that is the largest employer in the Richmond area—with more than 20,000 employees—and the sixth largest in Virginia.

Also elected to the ACE Board of Directors during today’s ACE business meeting were:


Term Ending March 2023

  • Lawrence S. Bacow, President, Harvard University (MA)
  • Chris Howard, Robert Morris University (PA)
  • Mark Mitsui, President, Portland Community College (OR)
  • Juan Sánchez Muñoz, President, University of Houston-Downtown (TX)
  • Brian Noland, President, East Tennessee State University
  • Richard J. Pappas, President, Davenport University (MI)
  • Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Chancellor, City University of New York

Term Ending March 2022

  • Carrie Besnette Hauser, President, Colorado Mountain College
  • Tom Stritikus, President, Fort Lewis College (CO)

Term Ending March 2021

  • Bill Pink, President, Grand Rapids Community College (MI)
  • Barbara R. Snyder, President, Case Western Reserve University (OH)


Designated Associations (Term Ending March 2023)

  • American Association of Community Colleges
    Daniel J. Phelan, President, Jackson College (MI)
  • American Association of State Colleges and Universities
    F. Javier Cevallos, President, Framingham State University (MA)
  • Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities
    Peter M. Donohue, President, Villanova University (PA)
  • National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
    Michael Sorrell, President, Paul Quinn College

Washington Higher Education Secretariat Designated Representative (Term Ending March 2021)

  • Kathleen Curry Santora, President, National Association of College and University Attorneys

Media Contact
Jon Riskind
Telephone:(202) 939-9453

SNHU Presiden​t Paul LeBlanc​​