Vol. 1 (new series), No. 1, spring 2015

The ACS Mission
ACS Palladian: A Window and a Goddess
A Whole New Team at ACS
Tidal Wave of Change in ACS Institutions UPDATED
A Major Anniversary for Shakespeare
Faculty Grants Available

The ACS Mission

–Owen Williams

If you are new to your job, or have yet to interact with our organization, you may well be wondering, “What is ACS?” Now is a good time to ask that question. We are currently devising the 2020 Vision—it has been just over five years since our last strategic plan—and there has been significant turnover throughout the ACS system.

The Associated Colleges of the South is a consortium of sixteen nationally respected liberal arts colleges—the best from every southern state—whose board consists of all our member presidents. Since 1991, these institutions have worked together for their mutual benefit and enhancement. Historically, our attention has gone toward faculty advancement and academic programs. (For more on our history, please visit the history page of our website (

Going forward, we hope to also focus on cost reduction projects that could make our extraordinary colleges and universities accessible to an even broader mix of students, an objective first articulated in our 2015 strategic plan, composed in 2009.

A committee of sixteen people, one representative from each of our member institutions, will meet in June to discuss possible actions and projects we could pursue as a group (or groups of three and more). It is assumed that the committee will meet three to four times through the balance of this calendar year, with the intent of presenting a strategic plan to the ACS board at their January 2016 meeting. We want this process to be completely transparent and inclusive, so expect regular postings from the committee. We hope you will follow the process and provide frequent feedback.

 Another important reason for examining the future directions of ACS is the significant amount of turnover on our board and at our colleges, as is detailed in the article below. We are clearly at a time when ACS has an opportunity for new strategic directions of the sort we invite you to think about and comment upon.

To that end, we have established a page on our website at which we invite your suggestions ( Please take a look and let us know what you think.

ACS Palladian: A Window and a Goddess

–Jeannine Diddle Uzzi and David Morton

The Palladian was first published in 1996 and was distributed in print to member institutions and the general public. The last issue, dated Winter 2014, documented the retirement of ACS President Wayne Anderson and the hiring of his successor, Owen Williams.  We suspended newsletter publication temporarily so that its design and purpose, like so much else at ACS, could undergo a thorough rethinking.  It is with great pleasure that we reconnect with our readers through the new and slightly retitled ACS Palladian.

Why “Palladian?” The name refers to Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), whose neoclassical style was widely adopted in Europe and the U.S., and whose distinctive Palladian window was the basis of the first ACS graphic logo.   The name and logo were imagined by Leigh Capps, then a senior at Birmingham-Southern College. ACS presidents and deans liked the symbolism of the stylized Palladian window graphic that Capps created, a window “through which the Southern institutions would look outward toward the nation and the world while others would look inward, observing and learning from initiatives undertaken by ACS.”   Palladian architecture is well-represented on several ACS campuses, and it is exemplified by Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, which we have placed in the banner of this issue.

The word Palladian also evokes Pallas Athena, Greek goddess of the seemingly disparate realms of war, wisdom, and weaving.  Why one goddess for them all? Each represents one aspect of Athena’s identity as the goddess of  technology.  In the famous mythological contest between Poseidon and Athena for patronage of the city of Athens, Poseidon causes salt spray to burst from the Acropolis; Athena plants an olive tree.  Poseidon’s gift represents the raw power of nature.  Athena’s gift, while less spectacular, offers the citizens a resource that, when combined with human ingenuity, brings the city lasting prosperity.  Olive cultivation was at the heart of the Athenian economy, olives one third of the Mediterranean triad.

One can read many episodes from Greek mythology—including Homer’s Odyssey—as struggles in which human beings use technology, symbolized by Athena, to harness, overcome, or simply survive the power of the natural world, symbolized by Poseidon.  Athena helps human beings build the first ship; her invention of the bit tames horses, and she teaches carpenters to build horse-drawn chariots; she turns brute strength into military strategy; she teaches women to weave wool into clothing and intricate tapestries.  These pursuits all require the application of human wisdom to the raw materials of the natural world, which is one way of thinking about technology.

 In the new ACS Palladian, both symbols speak.  The ACS is indeed a window on the world for our institutions and an invitation to those beyond the ACS to look in and work with us.  And today, ACS is entering Athena’s realm in earnest, applying cutting edge technology to the pressing challenges facing liberal arts institutions.

The ACS Palladian will continue to be the flagship publication for ACS, but it will function in new ways.  Most significantly, the email-distributed, electronic edition will be offered in fall, winter, and spring each academic year, and will take the lead, offering subscribers the latest ACS news and events and supplementing our web content.  There will be a print edition that contains features and stories with greater longevity. As always, the ACS Palladian will remain free to subscribers and we encourage our legacy readers to spread the word.

A Whole New Team at ACS

–Owen Williams

“To improve is to change,” a wise and witty Winston Churchill once observed, “so to be perfect is to have changed often.”  ACS is at least a nine iron away from perfection, but not for lack of changing.  Indeed, we have a new office suite (very close to our old one), a new logo that can be seen on our new website, and a completely new staff.

The first personnel change came when former president Wayne Anderson stepped down after twenty-three years at the helm of ACS.  Over the past year, Wayne has remained quite engaged at ACS, generously providing historical perspective and strategic advice.  Despite his demanding schedule as consultant at AGB, Wayne is as engaging and droll as ever.

His humor is matched by Dave Morton’s even more arid comedic tendencies, always on display as he goes about his tasks as director of communications and technology.  Dave wrote his dissertation (at Georgia Tech) and three books on the history of technology, so he is well suited to manage our website, edit ACS Palladian, and oversee our rapidly evolving technological needs.  During his free time, while constructing a deck off the back of his home, Dave ruminates on ways ACS can better market the liberal arts.

Jeannine Uzzi—Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hamilton College, former classics professor at Whitman College, and our new director of faculty programs—has a strong commitment to the liberal arts.  Jeannine brings extraordinary energy and efficiency to everything she does.  Having participated in the development of Sunoikisis (ACS’s online classics initiative) and taught many online courses, Jeannine has a keen eye for the ways in which technology might augment the liberal arts experience.  She is also quite eager to help our members develop enhanced assessment tools by which to monitor student success.

 ACS would simply not function without the talents of Jesse Lexow, a Clemson graduate who serves as our operations coordinator, and Rashida Kirton, our new director of finance and human relations.  Jesse soldiers through a broad range of responsibilities, while Rashida quietly crunches the numbers on everything we do.  Despite our merciless litany of deadlines, Jesse and Rashida inspire our whole team with their unflappable grace.

Should you like to know or see more of our team at ACS, please visit the staff page of our website (

All of us at ACS are eager to meet all of you at our member colleges.  We invite you to visit our offices whenever you are in Atlanta.

Tidal Wave of Change at ACS Institutions

–Owen Williams

In a recent discussion with the president of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, I asked, “during your ten years at ACM, what was the biggest number of new college presidents you saw in any one year?” The response: “In 2008 we saw significant turnover within our 14 colleges; we had four new presidents.”  Well, ACS has them beat, by a lot.

At ACS, we have seen an extraordinary transition in leadership within our 16 member colleges.  In fact, over the past year we have seen nine new presidents and, over the past two years, 12 new chief academic officers! And the president of W&L, Dr. Ken Ruscio, has just announced that he will step down from his position in June of 2016.

In the year prior to this just ending, Dr. Ed Burger took the helm at Southwestern University, as did Dr. John Wilson, Jr. at Morehouse College.  During the current academic year, Dr. Elizabeth Davis became president at Furman University, while Dr. William Tsutsui assumed responsibility at Hendrix College.

The current chair of the ACS board, Dr. Beverly Tatum, president of Spelman for the past thirteen years, is stepping down this summer, and we will miss her enormously.  Dr. Tatum has been hugely successful at Spelman and has been so helpful to me in my first year as president of ACS.

Dr. Ed Ayers, president for ten years at the University of Richmond, is a man of incredible energy whose creativity knows no bounds.  He too will be stepping down this summer.  His leadership toward productive racial discourse and social justice have inspired all of us at ACS.

General Charles Krulak is a force of nature whose leadership at Birmingham-Southern will not be easily replaced.  After serving as Commandant of the U.S. Marines, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and CEO of a major regional bank, “the General” assumed his position at BSC for which he has never taken a paycheck.

After ten years of service as president of Rollins College, Dr. Lewis Duncan—renowned physicist and former chair of the ACS board who previously led the Dartmouth School of Engineering—will be writing a book about the effect of technology on humanity.

Luckily for ACS and Trinity University, Dr. Michael Fischer will return to his post as provost after serving this past year as interim president.  Dr. Fischer is much loved on his campus, where people are very grateful to him for the continued leadership he provides.

We will miss all our old friends, of course, yet at the same time we are excited about the dynamic leaders who will soon join our consortium.

ACS would like to welcome Edward F. Leonard  to Birmingham-Southern College; Dr. Ronald A. Crutcher to University of Richmond; Dr. Grant H. Cornwell to Rollins College: Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell to Spelman College; and Dr. Danny Anderson to Trinity University.  We are eager to work with you all.

A Major Anniversary for Shakespeare

–David Morton

The Associated Colleges of the South invites its member institutions to join us as we commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death through a series of events and performances in 2016.

We encourage all of our member colleges to think creatively about how we can build upon and collaborate for this celebration. We also hope to partner with cultural, arts, and humanities organizations, as well as museums and libraries throughout the South. At ACS, we will collect information about any events on our campuses and across our region, which we will make known to you through our website and future Palladian newsletters. Read the full article here.

Faculty Grants Available

–Jeannine Diddle Uzzi

Since the founding of ACS in 1991, faculty advancement has been at the heart of its mission. Between 2011 and 2013, ACS awarded 104 Faculty Advancement Grants, of which 46 focused on blended learning and nearly half supported collaborations among ACS institutions. In 2014, ACS awarded 32 Faculty Advancement Grants, the fruits of which we are already beginning to see.

This spring brings three consortium-wide activities: On May 19, faculty from Birmingham-Southern College led a workshop open to all ACS faculty on the use of blended learning techniques to enhance critical thinking in the STEM fields. Faculty collaboration between Centre College and Furman University has resulted in an ACS Contemplative Pedagogy Workshop to be held June 12-14 at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill near Danville, KY. Collaboration between faculty at Centre and Rollins Colleges culminates June 11-12 in an ACS-wide workshop on improving pedagogy in the teaching of inorganic chemistry.

ACS is tremendously proud of the innovative work it has had the pleasure to support with its Faculty Advancement Grants. Since the awarding of the 2014 grants, ACS staff has thought carefully about how best to support faculty in 2015 and the years ahead. While much of what has characterized faculty advancement at ACS will remain in place, ACS is changing and growing with the times and with its member institutions.

This year’s Faculty Grants will be funded in large part by a grant from the Woodruff Foundation that supports sustainability in higher education. This sustainability is not the sustainability of an environmental studies department: with this grant, the Woodruff Foundation intends to support the financial sustainability of higher education through collaborative and technology-enhanced initiatives that will control or reduce the cost of education.

A grant from the Mellon Foundation will allow ACS to continue to fund proposals not explicitly tied to financial sustainability; however, preference will be given to proposals that include collaboration among ACS institution that lead to the development of online courses and programs, and that support diversity and inclusion. In light of changes to the Faculty Grant program, ACS encourages faculty to take special note of grant emphases in the Call for Proposals contained in this issue of the ACS Palladian.

Call for Proposals: ACS Faculty Grants support projects that develop method rather than content, have a direct impact on student learning and assessment of that learning, and help increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of a liberal arts education. ACS is especially interested in proposals that incorporate the following: inter-institutional collaboration, online or technology-enhanced pedagogy, diversity and inclusion, and the ability to generate matching funds. Standard Faculty Grants range from $2,500-$15,000. Grants of up to $100,000 could be available through the Woodruff Foundation for projects that make liberal arts education more sustainable by creating virtual, inter-institutional academic departments or fully online programs. Pre-proposals are due September 18, 2015. For more information, visit our website ( or email Jeannine Diddle Uzzi (


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