Members throughout the NAC&U consortium gathered in Atlanta at the AAC&U Annual Meeting to celebrate the 9th Annual Boyer Award presentation and lecture, share best practices, and present how they’re supporting student veterans.

Just prior to the start of the AAC&U Annual Meeting, NAC&U provosts and chief academic officers gathered for their annual winter meeting. They covered a range of topics including a robust discussion on mergers and acquisitions led by four institutions who have acquired smaller specialty schools such as seminaries and art schools. The group also set an agenda for the spring discussions (see details on our events calendar) and thanked NAC&U President Nancy Hensel for her service. Hensel will retire on February 28.

Abiodun Goke-Pariola, Vice President of Academic Affairs at North Central College, with Frederick Lawrence

NAC&U presented the 9th Annual Boyer Award to Frederick Lawrence, secretary/CEO of Phi Beta Kappa. The award pays tribute to Boyer’s legacy by honoring others who are making significant contributions to American higher education.

“Frederick Lawrence’s work as a legal scholar and in higher education has guided institutions in their efforts to model the citizenship that our country needs to ensure an inclusive, just society,” said Hensel.

Following the award presentation, Lawrence delivered the 2019 Boyer Lecture, titled “To Whom Does the University Belong?: the Complex Foundations of Higher Education Institutions,” during which he advocated for the importance of a liberal arts education in preparing students for life and careers in a democratic society.

Also during the AAC&U Annual Meeting, a panel of representatives from Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.; Manhattan College, Riverdale, N.Y.; and Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind.; shared the work they are doing to best support their students who are veterans.

Steven Kaplan, professor of religion, Manhattan College; Mimi Barnard, associate provost, Belmont University, and Dan Pelzel, graduate student, Valparaiso University gather before their presentation on supporting veteran students at their respective campuses.

Dan Pelzel, an army veteran, graduate student, and veterans services representative at Valparaiso, talked about the importance of training faculty and staff on the unique issues that veterans are facing, including the transition from military to civilian life and, for many, the need to support families while earning degrees. Mimi Barnard, an associate provost at Belmont, discussed how the University leveraged a state grant to boost its support for veterans including having an academic coach to help veterans to navigate their higher education pathway even before they meet with their advisers. Manhattan College’s Steve Kaplan, a religion professor and director of the Veterans at Ease program, outlined having a ‘curricular base’ to help student veterans meet each other and begin to integrate with traditional students. The College achieves this by requiring all students to take a religion course on the diversity of religious experiences globally which recently resulted in a class of about 60 percent traditional students and 40 percent military veterans. He also outlined the College’s four-day retreat and stress reduction programs for veterans, citing outcomes that showed more than 90 percent of retreat attendees either currently in school or successfully graduated. In addition 28 percent of those students who attended the retreat reported participating in (non-veteran) campus clubs and organizations.

All three campuses cited word-of-mouth as the best way to attract student veterans. In fact, Kaplan said that Manhattan College has more has more than tripled its veteran population from 40 to 130 veteran students since it began its Warriors at Ease program four years ago.

NAC&U closed out the week with a reception co-hosted with fellow consortia and organizations -- COPLAC, CIEL, Imagining America, and the Washington Internship Institute -- during which they welcomed approximately 80 guests for networking and learning more about the non-profits.