Message from the President

It is a great honor for me to serve as your new President and I follow two very strong leaders in Laura De Abruna this past year and April Mason before that. They, along with the Board of Directors and the continued work of our Executive Director Theresa Gibbon, have provided a strong foundation going forward. Martha Potvin will be President-Elect for the coming year so we will work as a team to guide ACAO.

In addition to Laura who remains on our board as past-president, we have five new board members and I hope you will join me in welcoming them to the team.
                            • Sheila Gutierrez de Pineres, Austin College
                            • Kathy E. Johnson, Indiana University Purdue University
                            • Kelli R. Brown, Georgia College
                            • Todd Diacon, Kent State University
                            • LeGene Quesenberry, American University in Nigeria

We have a number of initiatives scheduled for the coming year. First, Laura will continue to lead our efforts to implement the recent grant from the Gates Foundation supporting our Digital Fellows Project. It will be a challenging project with a tight timeline but we have a good plan of action. Laura will work with Casey Green, our project director, to move forward. Our first order of business is to identify 30 digital fellows to participate in a yearlong effort to provide senior campus leaders the information resources and support needed to help their faculty understand and adopt high quality digital courseware with the result of creating significant gains in undergraduate persistence and graduation. An FAQ is on our website that helps explain the initiative and we hope many of you will volunteer to participate in this effort. Selections occur in May.

One of our key goals this year is to retain and grow our membership. We know we have work to do in increasing the value of ACAO to all of you and working with our membership committee we are intent on doing that in the coming year. We plan to increase our interaction through periodic webinars on topics that you have told us are important to you. We will also continue to sponsor discussions on our website and through email that will increase the engagement across our members that add value and resources to each of you. ACAO supports its operation primarily through dues so membership is key to its success. All of you can help by having your colleagues join!

We will continue to partner with ACE across a range of activities. We will take your ideas and suggestions as the basis of recommending annual conference panels to ACE that are relevant to you. Panels this year included topics on Difficulty Faculty/Constructive Debate, Taking Charge: Fundraising for Academic Leaders, and Promising Faculty Roles in Recruitment and Retention. They all were successful and well attended. Thank you for these great suggestions.

We also hope to work with ACE and Sherry Hughes to find mechanisms to assist with the ACE fellows through such activities as serving as mentors, recommending panelists for ACE Fellow events and perhaps developing case study tools that can assist working with academic affairs units across a campus. Finally, we hope to work with Louis Soares who leads ACE’s efforts in strategy, research and advancement to identify linkages between CAO’s and his work on thought leadership for ACE.
The Board, at its meeting this March approved the creation of an ACAO Advisory Board comprised of retired CAOs who can help provide needed support for the organization. Thanks goes to Dori Helms, who recently retired as CAO from Clemson University and Sharon Vasquez, recently retired from University of Hartford, for working on this effort.

ACAO has an active marketing committee and we have been working on ideas to communicate our message more effectively. Be sure to follow us on our new @acao_org Twitter account to stay informed of all of these activities. In addition, thanks to Connie Johnson and Colorado Technical University for providing some added expertise in how to do our marketing efforts more effectively. The Committee will be looking for ideas and support in the coming year.

Please reach out to Theresa at or myself to provide suggestions, recommendations or feedback on how we can move ACAO forward. It is your organization and we want it to be the best it can be. I will be communicating back to all of you regularly with updates on activities and initiatives over the coming months. Thanks for being part of the journey.

Best regards,

B.J. Reed

Digital Fellows Program

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