It was great to see so many of you this week in Philadelphia at ACE2019, ACE’s 101st Annual Meeting, for three days of sessions, wonderful talks, and spending time with friends and colleagues. The energy and enthusiasm for the work we all do was clear, as beginning Sunday we heard from Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow on developments in global affairs that are likely to impact higher education, and Cappy Hill, president emerita of Vassar College, who delivered the 2019 Robert H. Atwell Plenary address on expanding higher education access. On Monday, Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, and author Robin DiAngelo led a lively and provocative conversation about race, and Nick Anderson of The Washington Post interviewed author Tara Westover about her best-selling memoir, Educated.
Tuesday’s closing plenary featured a conversation moderated by my old friend and boss John B. King Jr., president and CEO of The Education Trust and former secretary of education, on how to get students across the completion finish line. The students on the panel, including ACE’s 2018 Students of the Year Sophia Norcott and Brendyn Melugin, were powerful voices testifying both to the transformative power of education and their own ability to apply their varied life experiences and perspectives as they pursued postsecondary education.
At the Monday morning breakfast plenary, ACE Senior Vice President Philip Rogers debuted our new Learning and Engagement Division, which is developing affordable, scalable, professional learning opportunities for higher education leaders through a series of regional summits and an online platform called ACE Engage. Read this blog post for details about the new initiative, and this series of posts to discover what we all learned at the meeting.
Of course as everyone was packing up to leave on Tuesday, news first broke of the college admissions scandal that has dominated headlines in recent days. This is an appalling and extremely distressing violation of the essential premise of a fair and transparent college admissions process that all of our institutions must demonstrate they are committed to following. As I said in a statement Saturday, this alleged behavior is antithetical to the core values of our institutions, defrauds students and families, and has absolutely no place in American higher education. There will be more to come on this in the weeks and months ahead, and we will be monitoring the situation carefully and investigating proactive steps we can take to work with our institutions on addressing these issues.