NACU to Present 10th Annual Boyer Award to Nancy Cantor

Nancy Cantor

The New American Colleges and Universities (NACU) is proud to announce Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, in Newark, N.J.,  as the recipient of the 10th Annual Ernest L. Boyer Award. Cantor is globally recognized as an advocate for higher education, a catalyst for social mobility, and leader for universities serving as a public good in their communities.

The award pays tribute to Ernest Boyer’s legacy by honoring others who are making significant contributions to American higher education. When Ernest Boyer was serving as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1994 he gathered with presidents, provosts, and deans at what would become the founding members of the New American Colleges and Universities. His contributions at that conference, as well as his profound impact on how we understand undergraduate education, gave rise to NACU, a national consortium of private, comprehensive colleges and universities that are recognized for advancing the integration of liberal education, professional studies, and civic engagement. 

“Nancy Cantor has been an influencer and a mentor to numerous faculty and leaders who have gone on to reflect her tireless commitment to civic engagement. NACU is honored to President Cantor with the Boyer Award,” said Sean Creighton, president of NACU. “She has advanced higher education and social justice and, ultimately, risen to Boyer’s challenge for colleges and universities to improve the human condition,” Creighton added.

Reflecting Boyer’s own enduring work to transcend boundaries within the academy and between the academy and the world, Cantor has worked assiduously throughout her leadership roles at the University of Michigan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Syracuse University, and Rutgers University – Newark on internal transformations needed for higher education institutions to better serve their public missions. Characteristic of her leadership have been efforts to recognize and reward publicly engaged scholarship, cultivate genuinely reciprocal relationships between universities and their communities, and diversify the student body and faculty. Her perspective about the ways in which these efforts are inextricably intertwined is documented in her prodigious record of publications, invited lectures, and speeches. Most recently, it is articulated and expanded upon in a book series that she co-edits with long-time colleague Earl Lewis titled, Our Compelling Interests (Princeton University Press), in which the inaugural book of that name is subtitled,The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society. The influence of her thought combined with her leadership accomplishments along these lines has garnered her numerous recognitions including the Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award, Robert Zemsky Medal for Innovation in Higher Education, Making a Difference for Women Award from the National Council for Research on Women, Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from the American Council on Education, and the Frank W. Hale, Jr. Diversity Leadership Award from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

“Ernie Boyer remains a hero in causes that I share with so many colleagues across the institutions and communities where I’ve served and across the ever-expanding networks of faculty, staff, students, and leaders nationally and internationally who are striving to realize the mission of our colleges and universities as public goods,” said Cantor. “In a spirit that I know Boyer, himself, embraced: I am profoundly honored to receive this award as recognition of the collective work we all have done and continue to do to advance the impact and equity of higher education.”

NACU will present the 10th Annual Boyer Award on Thursday, January 23, 2020, in Washington, DC, at the AAC&U Annual Meeting. Following the award presentation, Dr. Cantor will deliver an address on “The Urgency of Recommitting Higher Education to the Public Good in 2020 and Beyond.”

Past recipients of the Boyer Award have included Alexander and Helen Astin, Edward Ayers, John N. Gardner and Betsy O. Barefoot, Jose Antonio Brown, Cathy Davidson, Ira Harkavy, Frederick Lawrence, Carol Geary Schneider, and Beverly Daniel Tatum.