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ACAD Celebrates 75th Anniversary Year

In the fall of 1944, the idea for the American Conference of Academic Deans (ACAD) was born.  E.V. Bowers, then Dean of Marshall College, knew there was a long-time interest in programming and meetings for liberal arts deans—specifically they ought to have a meeting, or conference, of their own.  He reached out to the Executive Director of the Association of American Colleges (AAC) which is now the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) seeking support for a special line of programming and meetings for liberal arts deans at the AAC Annual Meeting.  There was incredible support and invitations were mailed to AAC member institution deans and ACAD was born.  On January 10, 1945 at the Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ the first meeting of ACAD occurred.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

This year (September 2019—August 2020) ACAD celebrates 75 years of programming, resources and networking for academic leaders at two-year and four-year colleges and universities.  Our historical affiliation with AAC&U stands strong as does our continued commitment to the ideals of liberal arts education and supporting academic leaders in their work.  We look forward to celebrating with our members, as well as celebrating the work of our members, over our 75-year history.

75 Ways ACAD Supported Me in My Work

ACAD members reflect on ways ACAD has supported academic leaders over the past 75 years.

“As a relatively new Academic Dean, the ACAD Dean’s Institute has been an invaluable resource for networking, building leadership skills, and learning about trends in higher education that I have been able to apply at my home institution”.  Pamela MacRae, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Biodiversity Conservation, Unity College

“ACAD supports my work by connecting me with an impressive community of dean colleagues who share ideas, resources, and experiences.  The email exchanges and publications are invaluable.” Darla S. Hanley, Ph.D., Dean, Professional Education Division, Berklee College of Music

“Not long after I moved into the dean’s office, the pace of my days quickened and my days lengthened.  I could see that living at the pace for any length of time would be unsustainable.  Lucky for me, that’s when I met Tom Meyer at an ACAD roundtable.  He was leading a session on work-life balance.  Of course I signed up!  Tom was a seasoned dean at a community college in eastern Pennsylvania, and as soon as he started leading the discussion, I could tell that he knew what he was talking about.  To this day, many years later, I live by the things I learned that morning, right down to making a list of important goals at the beginning of each month.” Del Doughty, Ph.D., Dean, College of Arts, Sciences and Education, Texas A&M University-Texarkana

“The greatest benefit of ACAD has been getting to know the other academic leaders in ACAD. Hearing others’ advice and best practices and learning how other academic leaders have approached challenges and seeing their resilience has strengthened me.  I now have a group of leaders who support me and I know have the real-life experience to advise me when I have questions.” Michael Wanous, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Northern State University

“Having served long term at one institution, it is more difficult to develop professional relationships outside that institution.  ACAD membership and service have been excellent opportunities to meet new colleagues, join in excellent conversations, and develop useful relationships.” Pete Skoner, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Saint Francis University

“The ACAD Dean’s Institute was perhaps the most helpful event that I attended as part of the research I did for my first administrative job search.  The opportunity to network with colleagues through roundtable discussions on critical topics related to academic leadership was invaluable — something I wasn’t able to easily get in other contexts.  Several ACAD board members also spoke with me personally during a social gathering at the ACAD/AAC&U meeting.  They encouraged me to join the organization and I got more involved.  I’ve made contacts that have served me well in my administrative career path!” Glenn Geiser-Getz, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, SUNY Geneseo

Did You Know?

Interesting facts about historical events and changes in higher education over the past 75 years.


1944 – Congress passes the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act, or the “G.I. Bill,” and we’ve been thinking about “access” ever since.

1944 – Due to World War II’s impact on male enrollments, women temporarily outnumber men in higher education.

1944 — Dean E.V. Bowers, Marshal College, invites deans from the Association of American Colleges (AAC) to attend the first meeting of the American Conference of Academic Deans (ACAD).

1945 — The first meeting of ACAD occurs during the AAC annual meeting.

1946 – College enrollment exceeds two million students, nearly half of whom are veterans attending under the provisions of the GI Bill

1947 – The Truman Commission on Higher Education releases a report outlining the purpose and role of U.S. colleges and universities. The report lays the policy groundwork for dramatically increased participation in higher education throughout the U.S. In addition to its call for more universal access to higher education, the most important enduring legacy of the report was the promotion of the community college system across the United States.

1949 – The National Commission on Accrediting is formed by the major college and university national associations to accredit the accrediting agencies.

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