University of Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher Elected ACE Board Chair
December 09, 2020

Ronald A. Crutcher, president of the University of Richmond, 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.

Crutcher, who was selected today during a webinar with ACE members, will begin his term in March 2021. He will succeed Paul J. LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, and will serve for one year. Crutcher currently serves as ACE Board vice chair.

Ronald A. Crutcher

ACE's membership also elected Michael Rao, president of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), vice chair; and Linda A. Livingstone, president of Baylor University, secretary.

“ACE’s mission of leading advocacy efforts that shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practices to help colleges and universities best serve their students, communities, and the wider public good has never been more vital. We value the commitment of these leaders to help us fulfill this mission,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “I deeply appreciate the willingness of Ron, Michael, and Linda, along with the entire ACE Board of Directors, to serve in this role, and thank Paul for his exemplary service.”

“I have focused throughout my career on higher education access, affordability, and inclusive excellence, all principles that are more important than ever as our institutions and students face unprecedented challenges,” Crutcher said. “It is a privilege to serve as the chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education, an organization that also focuses on these vital goals on behalf of all of American higher education, and an honor to join visionary leaders like Paul LeBlanc in taking on this role.”

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. 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. He writes and speaks widely on the value of liberal education and the democratic purposes and civic mission of higher education. A former member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and several other symphonies, he currently performs in the U.S. and Europe as a member of The Klemperer Trio.

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.

Livingstone, president of Baylor University since 2017, has overseen the development of Baylor’s academic strategic plan, Illuminate, which details Baylor’s pursuit of becoming a preeminent Christian research university, and the $1.1 billion comprehensive campaign that undergirds Illuminate, called Give Light. A strong voice for the role of faith-based institutions in American higher education, she has established herself as a scholar in organizational behavior, leadership, creativity, and university accreditation.

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

Elected Members

Term Ending March 2024

  • Roslyn Clark Artis, President, Benedict College (SC)
  • Sylvia M. Burwell, President, American University (DC)
  • Damián J. Fernández, President, Eckerd College (FL)
  •  James B. Milliken, Chancellor, The University of Texas System
  • Thuy Thi Nguyen, President, Foothill College (CA)
  • Bill Pink, President, Grand Rapids Community College (MI)
  • Yves Salomon-Fernández, President, Greenfield Community College (MA)
  • Leocadia I. Zak, President, Agnes Scott College (GA)

Term Ending March 2023

  • Valerie Smith, President, Swarthmore College (PA)

Term Ending March 2022

  • Joan T.A. Gabel, President, University of Minnesota

Designated Members

Designated Associations (Term Ending March 2024)

  • Association of American Universities
    Gary S. May, Chancellor, University of California, Davis
  • Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
    Mark C. Reed
    , President, Saint Joseph’s University (PA)
  • Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
    James P. Clements
    , President, Clemson University (SC)

Washington Higher Education Secretariat Designated Representative (Term Ending March 2022)

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