Vol. 2 (new series), No. 2, summer 2016

New Presidents at ACS Institutions
Faculty Advancement Grants Awarded
1616 Commemoration at Rhodes
ACS Council of Deans Meeting Highlights

New Presidents: Leadership Turnover in ACS

Last year at this time, we posted an article about the “tidal wave of change at ACS institutions,” caused by the incredible number of new presidents and chief academic officers at our member institutions. Things have calmed somewhat since then, though there has been a subsequent wave of smaller amplitude, more like a capillary wave. In the past three years, we have seen new presidents at thirteen of sixteen ACS member institutions.

A few of our presidents are closing out their first year, including Mary Schmidt Campbell at Spelman College and Grant Cornwell at Rollins College—both of whom were recently inaugurated on April 9th—as well as Danny Anderson at Trinity University (inaugurated February 19, 2016) and Ed Leonard (inaugurated August 22, 2015) at Birmingham Southern University.

New presidents have been announced at Centenary College and at Washington and Lee University.

Centenary chose Dr. Christopher L. Holoman as its 31st president. Holoman, currently the provost at Hilbert College in Hamburg, New York, is a native of North Carolina who attended Chapel Hill and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in political science. (

Dr. William C. Dudley, currently provost at Williams College, has been selected as the 27th president of W&L. ( Dudley received his B.A. in mathematics and philosophy, magna cum laude, from Williams in 1989, and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Northwestern University, and he will take up his post at W&L in January of 2017.

Milton Moreland was recently appointed Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Rhodes College. We expect other similar appointments to be announced soon, all of which will be posted on the ACS website.

ACS Awards Fourteen New Faculty Advancement Grants

For nearly a decade, ACS has offered grants to faculty to encourage innovation in the classroom. Funding for these grants has been provided primarily by the Mellon Foundation, with significant additional funds from the Woodruff Foundation and directly from ACS.

For the 2015 Faculty Advancement Grants, ACS established four priorities: 1) inter-institutional collaboration, 2) online or technology-enhanced pedagogy, 3) diversity and inclusion, and 4) ability to generate matching funds.  In keeping with the recently approved ACS Strategic Plan 2020 Vision, the program will continue to stress these priorities in future funding cycles.  A committee consisting of 3 academic deans and 5 former grant recipients evaluated the 28 pre-proposals submitted and invited full proposals for the most promising projects.  After a thorough review, the committee recommended 14 projects for funding.

Collaboration is at the heart of the mission of ACS and inter-institutional proved to be the most important of the criteria in assessing the proposals.  Ten of funded projects represented collaborations and the remaining four, all of which were intra-institutional collaborations, were judged to have potential long-term benefits for the consortium as a whole. No individual projects received funding.

Over two-thirds of the projects contained blended learning or online component, although in several of these technology was not the primary focus.   The integration of technology into projects spanning a wide range of fields and topics demonstrates in many ways the success of previous blended learning initiatives.  Proposals incorporated technology in a variety of ways, including digital humanities projects, webinars, videoconferencing, online course modules, and online courses.

The last two stated priorities proved more challenging.  We were disappointed in the number of proposals received related to diversity and inclusion.  Going forward ACS plans to be more pro-active in developing faculty projects in this area.  The ability to generate matching funds proved more complicated to assess.  In the end, the committee asked—Were sufficient funds secured to ensure the successful completion of the project if ACS funds would not cover the proposed expenses?  If ACS funds were sufficient alone, the project was evaluated by the strength of the proposal and the potential benefits of the project for the consortium.

In our continuing efforts to encourage collaboration between ACS member institutions, we encourage faculty and staff to contact us early in their planning process and allow us to assist them in locating partners on other ACS campuses.

ACS Council of Deans Meeting Highlights

Periodically, ACS brings together the Deans (or Chief Academic Officers) of our sixteen member colleges and universities. The Council of Deans gathered on the campus of Morehouse College for their spring meeting on March 11-12, 2015. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of Morehouse College Garikai Campbell and his staff hosted the event, which was both productive and enjoyable.

Chair of the Council, John Beckford (Furman), presided over the business part of the meeting which began with the election of his successor.  Michelle Behr, Provost of Birmingham-Southern College was elected to serve in that capacity for a two-year term.  Discussion then turned to the ACS Strategic Plan: Vision 2020, recently approved by the ACS Board.  ACS president Owen Williams asked for the Deans’ assistance in establishing priorities for implementation of the Strategic Plan.  Other topics discussed included policies and strategies for restructuring academic programs and successful faculty mentoring at all stages of career.

The meeting also provided a wonderful opportunity to explore the campuses of Morehouse College and its sister institution, Spelman College.  On the opening night, Dr. Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts, gave a private tour of Black Chronicles II.  This exhibit of rarely seen 19th century studio portraits documents the Black presence in Victorian Britain.  Images of the African Choir and Kalulu, the African “boy-servant” of British explorer Henry Morton Stanley were both stunning in their beauty and disturbing in the cultural attitudes they revealed.

On the following day, Dr. Vickie Crawford offered a sample of items from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection at Morehouse College.  A favorite of the items displayed was a report card from King’s time as a student at Morehouse.  A testament to the demands of a Morehouse education, King’s marks in “Public Speaking” fell short of an “A.”   The day concluded with a student-guided tour of the Morehouse campus and its traditions.  All those present left with a deep appreciation of the rich legacy of Morehouse College.

The next meeting of the Council of Deans will be hosted by The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee on September 16-17, 2016.

“1616 Symposium” Commemorating the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s Death

In the words of Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage.” Rhodes College recently marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death by taking a closer look at the global stage that served as the backdrop to the famous bard’s life. The “1616 Symposium” brought together scholars from across the country and across academic disciplines for a lively and rich discussion of the world of Shakespeare.

The year 1616 was a time of momentous change. The year not only saw the death of William Shakespeare but also Cervantes and Tang Xianzu. The same year saw Pocahontas’ visit to London, the arrival of the first slaves in the British colony of Bermuda and the closing of Japan to foreigners. A global economy was emerging with colonization and the modern corporation. New ideas about science and magic spread as Copernicus was placed on the Index, Galileo waged battle with the church, and Harvey put forth his theory of circulation of blood. Understanding the complexities of this historical context has the potential to inform research and teaching in a variety of academic disciplines.

Thomas Christensen, author of 1616: The World in Motion, opened the 1616 Symposium with a keynote address that brought to life the upheaval of the age in the vivid and entertaining manner for which he is well-known. The following day brought presentations by noted scholars on a variety of themes. Changes in medicine, astronomy and alchemy were addressed by Gideon Manning (Caltech), Owen Gingerich (Harvard), and William Newman (Indiana). Heather Miyano Kopelson (Alabama) and Henry Turner (Rutgers) examined the topics of slavery and corporations. Catherine Swatek (UBC) spoke on seventeenth century China. Cultural topics ranging from Biblical criticism to the European stage completed the impressive array of thought-provoking lectures, with presentations from Michael Legaspi (Penn State), Mark Algee-Hewitt (Stanford), Wendy Wall (Northwestern), and Roland Greene (Stanford).

The event closed with the regional premier of 1616: The Secrets and Passions of William Shakespeare by the Transatlantyk2 Theatre Company. The one-man show performed by British actor Gareth Somers imagines the events of the final days of Shakespeare’s life, playing upon the same eternal themes of love, betrayal, friendship and reconciliation that continue to make Shakespeare relevant for today’s audiences.

The event would not have been possible without the hard work and support of numerous individuals. The event was funded in part by the Pearce Endowment which was established with funds from the late Dr. Iris Annette Pearce, a Rhodes alumna and Shakespeare enthusiast. A generous grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation enabled faculty from 14 ACS institutions to attend the symposium and supported live-streaming of the event. A repository of the taped presentations and material related to “1616” is also planned.

Particular thanks and praise go to symposium organizer Scott Newstok, Associate Professor of English at Rhodes College and Director of the Pearce Endowment.