Women Redefining Leadership

DI: What has been the reaction to your appointment?

MB: The expressions of support and the offers of help — which I am keeping close track of — are well into the hundreds of messages. So it is clear to me that American higher education believes that ACE can be a force for the good, and they want to help me.

DI: What are some of the challenges you foresee?

MB: I’m hoping that the Higher Education Act will be going into law before Molly Broad walks into One Dupont Circle. It has been the focus of efforts by David Ward during his entire service as president of ACE. Nonetheless, I think we will still be facing issues that are challenging, given the decline in the rate of growth in the economy, issues around the federal debt, the political divisiveness.

DI: What are your top three goals for ACE?

MB: I, frankly, think that the strategic priorities that ACE has set out are really the right ones, and now it’s a question of [looking] within those overarching topics — like leadership development, institutional effectiveness, internationalization and lifelong learning — [to see] where we can make a difference and where we need to do some serious study before we know what kind of action plan to build.

DI: What are the major challenges facing colleges and universities today?

MB: Near the top of the list has to be the leadership crisis that we are facing, with the mean age of college and university presidents now at about 60 years of age, and whether or not we have a pipeline that is ready to move into leadership positions, a pipeline that is reflective of the changing population demographics of our country. I think we’re facing other issues around how can we be more effective in enhancing not only the college entrance rate but the college graduation rate. We’re not going to have high-wage, low-skill jobs anymore in this country, and if we want high-wage jobs, they have to be accompanied by a high level of skill and education. Issues around lifelong learning — what is the 21st century counterpart to the GI bill in the middle of the 20th?

DI: Are there similar issues at HBCUs or do they have a separate set of problems?

MB: HBCUs have a very difficult set of problems and challenges, and yet remain a very important part of our higher education landscape if we are going to be successful in building a strong society. I think they continue to be up against the challenges of serving a significant fraction of students who come to their campuses not fully prepared to do high-level academic work, coming without the benefit of financial resources that have made tutors and other support services possible for kids coming from wealthier means.

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