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Fellows Kick Off a Year of Work at Opening Retreat

August 13, 2018


​In Richmond last week on the historic public research campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, the 2018-19 class of the ACE Fellows gathered for their Opening Retreat. 

The 43 members of the class met to discuss their goals and the process of their Fellowship year, bond as a cohort, and reveal their placements. Announced in March, this group represents the diversity of U.S. higher education by gender, race/ethnicity, institution type, and disciplinary background. 

The opening day established the groundwork for the week-long retreat. Presentations from higher education experts introduced the group to the barriers they might face throughout their Fellowship year and later as senior campus leaders, including: changing demographics; unfamiliarity with post-traditional learners, which make up nearly 60 percent of the U.S. undergraduate population; and student issues like homelessness and food insecurity. 

For the first day of the retreat, Fellows wore apparel from their home institutions.

Clare Cady, director of community engagement, HOPE Center for College, Community and Justice, Temple University, presented on student hunger to the Fellows. On tackling these issues, Cady told the group to think outside the box to help students financially, such as offering tax preparation, and look for partners such as local food banks to help cut costs and combine resources.

She also shared her mantra with the Fellows: “If not me, then who?”

A design workshop facilitated by Design School X led the Fellows through a series of highly participatory exercises on building equity.

David Clifford, founder, Design School X, and Liberatory Design Faculty, National Equity Project, leads the Fellows in an exercise.

The rest of the week included more presentations, group discussions, meetings with mentors, and case study development. For the next year, Fellows will immerse themselves in the study and practice of leadership and experience the culture, policies, and decision-making processes of their placement institution.

ACE is currently accepting members of the 2019-20 class of Fellows. To apply or ask questions, please contact

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