Shaping Future Generations of Academic Leadership

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The next generation of higher education leaders will need to integrate diversity and community leadership into their strategies and programs, and the American Council on Education (ACE), the organization that plays a critical role in developing those leaders, believes Rutgers University, Newark is just the right institution to show them how.

"Diversity and community engagement are changing the face of universities, and institutions must learn to integrate diversity into their strategies, actions and cultures," notes Sharon McDade, ACE program director. "Rutgers University, Newark, American's most diverse national university, has done that to such a superb level that the ACE Fellows Program is using the campus as a learning lab."

Thus, 39 ACE Fellows from the U.S. and South Africa came to campus Aug. 31, meeting with deans, administrators, faculty and student leaders as they began their analysis of how Rutgers-Newark incorporates diversity into its strategy, actions and culture, and how it makes civic engagement part of that diversity. Their assignment: develop suggestions for the individual schools and colleges to further capitalize on diversity and leverage community engagement.

Over the next four months, the fellows will continue to gather and assess data, studying everything from academic programs to student services and admissions policies. In January, they will present the results of their findings to ACE and Rutgers leaders. "The future of higher education depends on leaders who can meet cutting-edge institutional challenges of diversity and community," says Chancellor Steven J. Diner. "We are delighted to share what we've already successfully put into practice here at Rutgers."

The ACE-Rutgers partnership began last year, when the Fellows Program "piloted" the use of a brick-and-mortar institution for its midyear case study, rather than focusing on hypothetical institutions, as it has done in other contexts. The pilot was so successful that ACE not only repeated the real-world case study but added the campus visit, rather than have the fellows simply do long-distance research.

ACE is the major coordinating body for all of the nation's higher education institutions, representing 1,600 institutions of higher education nationwide. More than 1,500 higher education leaders have participated in the ACE Fellows Program since its inception, including Diner, a fellow 25 years ago.