CIC Releases Research Digest, Welcomes New Staff Members

​Board News

Barbara Mistick, former president of Wilson College (PA), was appointed the fourth president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) in April and began her tenure on September 1, 2019. CIC thanks Mistick for her outstanding service to Wilson College and to the CIC Board of Directors and congratulates her on her new position as an advocate to the federal government for private colleges and universities across the country.


Digest of Recent Research coverCIC released the fifth edition of the Digest of Recent Research this summer. The Digest highlights timely and pertinent research from scholarly journals and other publications that independent college and university presidents, chief academic officers, and other senior campus leaders are likely to find useful. Edited by Matthew J. Mayhew, William Ray and Marie Adamson Flesher Professor of Educational Administration at Ohio State University, this issue reviews articles on small private colleges with limited resources; faculty participation in transformational communities; the importance of “high-impact” practices for college students’ early careers; student loans and college graduation; and gender bias recognition and reporting by faculty members, among other topics. The Digest is available online and also may be downloaded as a single document (PDF). CIC is grateful to the Spencer Foundation for its support of this member service.


Two new CIC reports received press coverage this summer. The Inside Higher Ed article “Learning about Online Learning at Small Private Colleges” (August 14) explored CIC’s July 2019 report Teaching the Humanities Online: Lessons from a Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges. And the August 29 article “Where Women, Black, and Latino Undergraduate STEM Majors Progress the Fastest” in Hechinger Report’s Higher Education newsletter examined the June report, Strengthening the STEM Pipeline Part II. The article quoted CIC President Richard Ekman about how the environment at small colleges offers students strong support, often helping to propel students out of college faster than the environment at public institutions.

Several news articles included CIC commentary about college business models, enrollment trends, and financial issues in recent months. Most recently, the Bloomberg Businessweek article “The $70,000-a-Year Liberal Arts College Just Won’t Die” (July 29) included a reference to the resiliency of CIC member institutions. The U.S. News & World Report story “The Cost of Private vs. Public Colleges” (June 25) quoted Ekman about the accessibility and affordability of small private colleges, including for low-income, first-generation, and other underrepresented student groups. The Chronicle of Higher Education article “The Enrollment Picture for Private Colleges Isn’t Pretty, But Some Say There’s Hope” (May 21) quoted Ekman about the financial strength and entrepreneurial spirit of many small private colleges. And the Education Dive story “What Happened When a Small Liberal Arts College Stopped Raising Tuition” (May 30)—about St. John’s College (MD) reducing its sticker price by 33 percent and launching a $300 million campaign—quoted Ekman on private colleges shifting their fundraising focus toward institutional grants and scholarships.

In July, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning (51:4) featured an article on CIC’s Consortium for Instructional Excellence and Career Guidance, a partnership with the Association of College and University Educators. The article, “Creating Value,” was co-authored by David Brailow, CIC’s vice president for development (as well as Penny MacCormack and Kevin P. Reilly), and discussed how faculty and excellent instruction can increase the value of a college degree. The issue’s opening editorial by Change editor David C. Paris also highlighted the Consortium.

A story in the July issue of University Business, “Seven Ways the Provost’s Job Is Bigger and Broader Than Ever Before,” quoted Richard Ekman and CIC Vice President for Academic Programs Kerry E. Pannell on the expanding roles of chief academic officers. The article also referenced CIC’s Institute for Chief Academic Officers and cited CIC research data.

CIC’s Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) received press coverage this summer. The Laurinburg Exchange (NC) story, “Bringle Returning to Deliver NetVue Lecture at St. Andrews University” (July 30), and the (SC) story, “PC Awarded Grant to Help Students Prepare for Careers” (June 7), discussed NetVUE Vocation across the Academy Grants awarded to St. Andrews University (NC) and Presbyterian College (SC). A Business North story, “St. Scholastica Strengthens Focus on Vocation” (July 29), discussed a NetVUE Program Development Grant recently awarded to College of St. Scholastica (MN).

The Next Avenue article “The College Programs Where Young and Older People Connect” (August 15) explored the CIC/ AARP Foundation’s Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults program and its July national conference. The WKTV Journal (MI) story “A Classroom for the Ages” (June 28) discussed how the Intergenerational Connections program helps Calvin University (MI) foster inclusive intergenerational classrooms.

The story “Springfield College [MA] Participates in Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts Institute” (June 19) discussed the college’s involvement in the CIC program that took place in Atlanta, Georgia, June 2–5 (see Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts Institute).

CIC’s new Humanities Research for the Public Good initiative was highlighted in the press this spring. The Chronicle-Telegram story “Oberlin College [OH] Gets Grant to Detail History” (June 5) discussed how the grant will help Oberlin tell the history of the college, the city, and its role as a sanctuary city through a traveling exhibition. The Rome News-Tribune story “Berry College [GA] Selected for Public Humanities Initiative” (June 14) reported on Berry’s project, which will highlight significant events and residents of Rome, Georgia, in the local struggle to achieve racial justice and interracial harmony in the 1950s and 1960s.

CIC’s new Online Course Sharing Consortium was cited in a June 12 Inside Higher Ed story about online college collaborations as well as in the EdSurge piece “To Scale Online and Save Small Schools, Higher Ed Takes a Page from K–12” (May 7).


S. Georgia Nugent, CIC senior fellow and president emerita of Kenyon College (OH), began her service as interim president of Illinois Wesleyan University on August 15, 2019. She will lead the university through the 2019–2020 academic year.

Harold V. Hartley III, CIC senior vice president, and Carol Schuler, vice president for state council programs, presented a workshop about independent higher education at the annual meeting of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) in Hot Springs, Virginia, on June 7. They shared data and talking points about the value of private colleges and engaged board members in role playing exercises. Schuler also participated in the board’s annual meeting on June 8, where first- year state executive Matthew Shank, VFIC president, introduced a new video campaign that was produced with support from a CIC State Councils Capacity-Building Grant.

Kelsey A. Sherman Creech was promoted to executive assistant to the president and elected as assistant secretary of the CIC Board of Directors in June. Sherman Creech has been a member of the CIC staff since August 2014. She previously served as staff assistant to the president and senior vice president and as assistant to the president and liaison to the board of directors.

After 12 years of success at CIC, Lilia M. LaGesse left her position as director of print and digital publications in June. She is now senior creative strategist at GRAPHEK Design Studio.

Heather M. Cox headshotHeather M. Cox joined CIC as publications manager/designer in August 2019. Previously, she worked at the International Monetary Fund where, as senior graphic designer, she produced reports, brochures, infographics, and presentations. As long-time art director and co-owner of MillerCox Design, she has worked with clients including the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the Brookings Institution, Georgetown University—and CIC. Cox graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a major in business administration and economics, a minor in computer science, and a concentration in art.

Kathleen Smith headshotKathleen Smith joined CIC as projects manager on August 19, 2019. In this new position, she will handle responsibilities for the president’s office as well as for CIC’s Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education. Previously, Smith worked in the University Career Center as well as the Office of Student Conduct at Auburn University while completing graduate work. Earlier, she was an undergraduate intern at Lobbyit, a public policy advocacy group based in Washington, DC. Smith earned BA degrees in philosophy and political science from Furman University (SC) and an MEd in the administration of higher education from Auburn University.


The Board of Directors and staff of CIC welcome the following new members since June 2019:

New Institutional Members

Manhattan School of Music (NY)
Maria College (NY)
University of New Haven (CT)

New International Member

Universidad Politecnica Internacional (Costa Rica)

New Affiliate Members

Associated Colleges of the South (GA)
Millennium Campus Network (MA)


CIC has created an organizational LinkedIn page that features thought leadership and media coverage of independent higher education as well as updates on CIC research, programs, and events. CIC members are encouraged to follow CIC on LinkedIn and engage in discussions.