Featured Speakers

The 2013 Presidents Institute features a strong lineup of speakers addressing this year's theme, “Catalysts for the Common Good.”

Keynote Address  •  Friday, January 4, 5:00–6:15 p.m.
Catalysts for the Common Good: The Role of Independent Colleges
It has become increasingly common for politicians and pundits to deride the purpose and value of a collegiate education. Too often the accusation is that “private” colleges and universities serve individuals’ goals, not “public” purposes. Especially with today’s emphasis on narrow training for workforce development to the exclusion of general education, there is much pressure to abandon the more expensive, but more efficient and more effective education provided by independent liberal arts colleges and universities. In his recent book, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, distinguished scholar and teacher Andrew Delbanco offers a vigorous and fresh rationale for the traditional four-year college experience—“an exploratory time for students to discover their passions and test ideas and values with the help of teachers and peers” that was recognized in early America as the best way to ensure the future of America’s then-novel approach to a common good. Independent liberal arts colleges and universities have a long—and exemplary—history of preparing well-rounded citizens for service to society in the workplace and the community. Acknowledging the challenges that all colleges face, Delbanco will consider what is at stake for college presidents in their efforts to ensure that the traditional educational experience offered by independent colleges is preserved for future generations.
Andrew Delbanco is the Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and a 2011 recipient of the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama. Winner of the 2006 Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates, Delbanco was named New York State Scholar of the Year by the New York Council for the Humanities in 2003 and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001. Delbanco has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a trustee of the Library of America and a trustee emeritus of the National Humanities Center. He served on the selection committee of CIC’s American Graduate Fellowships program. In addition to his recent influential book on the future of higher education, Delbanco’s many other publications include The Abolitionist Imagination (2012), Melville: His World and Work (2005), The Real American Dream (1999), and Required Reading: Why Our American Classics Matter Now (1997). Delbanco’s essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and other journals on topics ranging from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education. Delbanco received his AB and PhD degrees from Harvard University.

Plenary Session  •  Saturday, January 5, 8:30–9:45 a.m.
Online Learning and the Future of Residential Colleges
Rapid deployment of online technologies in teaching and learning at long-established colleges and universities has led many to conjecture that the future of higher education is changed forever. No longer is online education the domain of for-profit institutions or adult and graduate programs. Indeed, a handful of small and mid-sized independent colleges are at the forefront of this movement. Some observers contend that this new use of technology will radically disrupt higher education while others find nothing in these developments that would fundamentally alter the way traditional higher education is delivered. How can presidents best evaluate the latest developments in the use of technology in instruction, including massive open online courses (MOOCs), open educational resources (OERS), peer-to-peer instruction (P2P), and blended approaches? Are there ways for traditional residential, liberal arts-oriented colleges to achieve their distinctive educational missions without being constrained or overpowered by these new developments? What do we know about the learning styles of today’s students and the effective use of technology in independent colleges and universities? What do presidents need to know to be effective leaders of their institutions in the face of sweeping changes in the way students can be educated? Diana Oblinger, president and CEO of EDUCAUSE, the association that leads the largest community of information technology leaders and professionals in higher education, will address these and other pertinent questions.
Diana Oblinger is president and CEO of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology. Previously serving in both academia and the corporate world, Oblinger was executive director of higher education for Microsoft and served as vice president for information resources and chief information officer of the University of North Carolina system, IBM Director of the Institute for Academic Technology, associate dean of academic programs at the University of Missouri, and on the faculties of the University of Missouri-Columbia and Michigan State University. Under her leadership EDUCAUSE has become known for innovative technology products and services growth as well as international outreach. In collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, EDUCAUSE led the creation of the Next Generation Learning Challenges, a program focused on improving college readiness and completion through information technologies. Oblinger serves on the board of the American Council on Education and chairs the Washington Higher Education Secretariat. She previously served on the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure, the board of ACT, and the National Visiting Committee for the National Science Foundation’s National Science Digital Library project.

Plenary Session  •  Sunday, January 6, 8:30–9:45 a.m.
Structuring Educational Environments to Overcome Stereotypes that Impede Academic Success and Social Mobility: Strategies for Presidential Leadership
Why are at-risk students not graduating from college at the same rate as other students? What role do stereotypes of race, class, and gender play in academic underachievement? How might consciousness of identity help overcome negative views that impede performance? Can affirming campus environments contribute to greater success of graduates beyond college and thus contribute to the betterment of society? What strategies might college presidents employ to structure their campus communities to overcome negative stereotypes and foster success for all students? Noted social psychologist and author of Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, Claude Steele, will help us find answers to these and other questions based on findings from his research.
Claude Steele is the I. James Quillen Dean of the School of Education at Stanford University. Previously, he served as provost and professor of psychology at Columbia University and before that was a member of the faculty of Stanford University, holding appointments as the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. His book, Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, examines the theory of stereotype threat, which has been the focus of much of his research throughout his academic career. Steele was honored with the Dean’s Teaching Award from Stanford University and the Donald Campbell Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (2001). He also is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Education. Steele received a BA from Hiram College and earned his PhD in psychology from Ohio State University. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, Yale University, Princeton University, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Closing Plenary Session  •  Monday, January 7, 10:00–11:30 a.m.
Educating for a More Sustainable World
Among the many ways in which independent colleges and universities encourage civic engagement by students, none has caught the attention of students as vividly as environmental issues. Growth of environmental studies programs, use of local food in dining halls, and construction of energy-efficient buildings are but a few manifestations of this interest in preserving the environment. The engagement of students in issues of environmental sustainability is pervasive—perhaps more than in any other aspect of civic or societal improvement. The Honorable Carol Browner, distinguished former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been a major figure in advancing the environmental cause and has inspired thousands of students to get involved. She will address what presidents can do to further this momentum.
The Honorable Carol Browner most recently served as assistant to President Obama and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, where she oversaw the coordination of environmental, energy, climate, transport, and related policies across the federal government. Under her leadership, the White House secured the largest investment ever in clean energy and established the national car policy that included both new automobile fuel efficiency standards and first ever greenhouse gas emissions reductions. She currently serves as distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and as senior counselor of Albright Stonebridge Group. From 1993 through 2001, Browner served as the administrator of the EPA. During her tenure, the EPA adopted the most stringent air pollution standards in our nation’s history and set for the first time a fine particle clean air standard. Browner also spearheaded the reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Food Quality Protection Act. She serves on the Bloomberg Government advisory board and on the board of directors of the League of Conservation Voters. Browner earned her BA and JD from the University of Florida.
Respondent: Richard Guarasci, President, Wagner College