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ACM Notes-Fall 2007

ACM Notes is a newsletter for faculty and administrators at ACM member colleges.


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President's Column

Dear ACM colleagues,

What distinguishes off-campus study at ACM? What niche should ACM occupy in off-campus studies? These questions came to mind last month in Tanzania, as I stood at the site where ACM students follow the trail blazed by Mary Leakey's archeological team at Laetoli. There they discovered footprints of Australopithecus afraensis and other hominid remains dating to 3.6 million B.P.

Eighteen ACM students are there this month with Beloit geology professor Sue Swanson and three University of Dar es Salaam faculty, training in field studies at the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater or in nearby Tarangire National Park. Some are helping faculty answer how far this extraordinary stratum -- a layer of lava containing not only hominid footprints, but also many animal prints and even raindrop-prints from a Pliocene era rainfall -- extends. Others are looking at public health among the Maasai people, the area's current residents, or at the ecology of African wildlife.

Why should we ask about what distinguishes ACM off-campus study? After all, thousands of students have benefited from ACM programs since the 1960s, when the consortium carved out a leading role in the small but vital field of off-campus study. In the last decade, this field has grown explosively. Students, faculty, and college staff members now face the daunting task of sorting through a sometimes-bewildering array of new options. In the face of increased scrutiny of study abroad following an investigative front-page story published by the New York Times last August 16 ("In Study Abroad, Gifts and Money for Universities") and subpoenas issued subsequently to several study abroad organizations, ACM faces multiple pressures to make clear the quality, relevance and distinctiveness of its programs for faculty, students and their parents.

ACM celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. This is an opportune time to take stock of what the association has accomplished and to map out what value the consortium can add in coming decades. I found in the Tanzania program the core elements that have emerged in ongoing discussions within the ACM about characteristics that should define and distinguish our off-campus study portfolio. Some of the signature characteristics include:

  • Small classes and great teaching by ACM and on-site faculty in the liberal arts tradition;
  • Problem-based projects and intense faculty-student learning collaborations;
  • Field-based independent study projects, resulting in original research, that enrich campus intellectual life;
  • Cross-cultural learning about host countries and peers through language study and home stays;
  • Consortial agreements with partner universities and opportunities to study with local faculty, sometimes through direct enrollment;
  • Structured activities to enable thoughtful reflection and analysis of how differences in language, pedagogy, homes, and culture undergird life at the program site; and
  • Exchange opportunities for ACM faculty to build relationships with peers abroad.

Many of ACM's stakeholders -- presidents, academic deans, faculty advisors to specific programs, and campus directors of study away -- are already discussing the distinguishing qualities of our off-campus study portfolio. Yet student voices are also needed in this conversation, as well as a better understanding of their interests and expectations for off-campus study. What, for example, do recent alumni of ACM programs value most from the programs? What do potential candidates for ACM programs look for? How do these interests vary among the ACM campuses? What are the emerging ways that ACM programs best complement students' on-campus studies? How can we best convey the distinctiveness of ACM programs to students?

Knowing and communicating our unique academic character is fundamental to the viability of our programs and will help secure ACM's distinctive place among all the other study away opportunities. With this, we can do several things:

  • Design the best economic model to sustain the core elements of signature liberal arts off-campus study programs at ACM;
  • Retain and develop the unique site-specific features that distinguish ACM programs; and
  • Assess the outcomes of the ACM liberal arts model of off-campus programs.

I welcome your thoughts about what does or should distinguish ACM's portfolio of off-campus study programs. My email is

Meanwhile, you can read elsewhere in this newsletter about other developments on the ACM agenda, such as the new program opening in Botswana in January and the Chicago Programs that will open next fall with a new Business and Society program, a restructured Chicago Arts Program, and the long-standing Urban Studies Program.

Finally, this issue introduces two colleagues -- ACM's new Vice President, John Ottenhoff, and ACM's new Director of Off-Campus Programs, Kristine Jones. As you will see, they each bring extensive experience to their respective responsibilities for developing faculty and student programs, and to our discussions about what should distinguish ACM's programs.

All best,

Christopher Welna, President

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Promoting and sustaining diversity at ACM colleges

"Go forth and gather data" if you want to promote diversity, argued Jose Moreno to more than 100 ACM faculty and administrators representing student life, admissions, and other academic offices gathered at Colorado College on September 28-30. The group was there to engage in frank and extremely productive discussions about how to promote and sustain diversity at ACM colleges.

Dr. Moreno himself offered compelling data from his research in California about faculty diversity and hiring practices. The data forced his audience to question a host of myths often used in higher education to explain the lack of minority representation. Moreno is Assistant Professor of Chicano and Latino Studies at California State University, Long Beach.

Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. (Bush School, Seattle, WA and a Cornell College alumnus) challenged participants to confront their own prejudices, privilege, and isolation, engaging the participants in a series of exercises that can be used on campuses as well.

Funded by the ACM-Mellon Faculty Career Enhancement (FaCE) Project, the Conference on Racial and Ethnic Diversity originally developed through continuing conversations of the ACM Committee on Minority Concerns (CMC) and the ACM Academic Deans.

ACM faculty and deans also spoke about experiences at ACM campuses. Former Grinnell Associate Dean Brad Bateman (currently Provost at Denison University) presented a road map for diversifying the pool for hiring faculty while also conforming to legal requirements set during the past decade. Deans Susan Ashley, Dave Burrows and Jerry Seaman (Colorado College, Lawrence University and Ripon College, respectively) talked in detail about the accomplishments and the enduring challenges in their institutions' efforts to increase diversity through the Posse Program and other means.

Participants re-grouped by institutions for breakout sessions to analyze the particular challenges on their home campuses. Each group left with a plan for specific follow-up actions on its campus. To identify the participants from your campus or to contact them about the actions they planned, please see the conference website, where you can also find a. variety of materials, both from the conference itself and from initiatives sparked by the conference.

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FaCE project moves to a new phase

Collaboration, sustainability, and impact will be the central themes as ACM's Faculty Career Enhancement (FaCE) Project moves into Phase II this winter. A $600,000 grant to extend the project from the Andrew Mellon Foundation will support a new phase of research, workshops, and conferences that builds on lessons derived in the first years of activity.

Over the past three years, FaCE has underwritten individual research activities, convened timely discussions about the demands of institutional leadership, and facilitated informal and individualized exchanges of ideas and best practices across campuses. The largest portion of the funds supported research fellowships through "Enhancing Scholarly Agendas," so far distributing 96 awards of up to $3,000 each to help faculty take up new lines of research or prepare for productive sabbaticals.

FaCE's successful first phase will wrap up with several activities in 2007-08:

  • A final round of Enhancing Scholarly Agendas grants, with proposals due to ACM on November 15;
  • A conference, "Faculty Leaders, Not Administrators," to be held at Lawrence University on February 28-March 1, 2008;
  • A workshop, "Teaching Ethics and Health," to be held April 4-5, 2008, at Ripon College; and
  • A workshop, "Teaching Art History," to be held April 25-27, 2008 at St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges.

Phase II of FaCE will focus on developing:

  • New approaches to student/faculty research;
  • Faculty research collaborations across campuses and disciplines;
  • Innovative models for more effective teaching and learning; and
  • Courses and research with a multi-cultural or international focus.

The FaCE project aims to extend the reach of ACM collaborations by identifying ideas and practices that can provide substantial guidance to higher education and by funding dissemination activities to share the results widely with colleagues, both within the ACM and beyond. More details are available on the FaCE webpage; stay tuned for new Requests for Proposals under FaCE Phase II.

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Chicago Programs are preparing for fall 2008

The ACM Chicago Programs are taking shape for the fall 2008 semester, when Urban Studies will be joined by a restructured Chicago Arts and the new Business and Society program. Within a unifying theme of intense engagement with and analysis of the city and its people and institutions, each of the three programs will have a distinct focus. The programs will share facilities, along with some staff and curricular elements to offer students a whole experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.

The basic curricular model, designed to promote liberal arts synthesis across the programs, will include:

  • A Core Course -- an introduction to a complex urban environment featuring guest speakers, field experiences, readings, and discussion, both within each program and across the three programs.
  • Seminars -- students will choose among topics specific to arts, business or urban studies where the curriculum will combine a strong academic structure with field trips and sessions with Chicago experts.
  • Internships -- students will gain hands-on experience that is tied closely to their academic and career goals.
  • Independent study projects -- supervised work connected to students' specific academic interests.

Urban Studies, an ACM mainstay since 1969, engages students in the social and political context of the urban community. Through daily life and structured experiences in a neighborhood, students become active residents of Chicago and gain valuable insights into how the city works, both in public and behind the scenes. The program will continue under the leadership of Director Mary Scott-Boria, faculty Dorothy Burge and Zeva Schub, and staff members Julie Ruano and Mary Pelak.

Chicago Arts, which is being restructured in consultation with ACM faculty and Deans, will immerse students in the world of urban arts, as it has since its inception in 1989. Students will combine experience in Chicago arts organizations with critical reflection and opportunities for art-making. Chicago Arts is open to students from any academic major with an interest in any arts discipline.

Business and Society, launched with support from a grant awarded by the Kemper Foundation, will enroll its first students in fall 2008. The program will draw on the rich diversity of enterprise in Chicago -- from international corporations to small businesses -- as students explore the intersection between liberal arts education and the economic, social, and strategic forces that shape business activity. Business and Society is open to students from any academic major.

More information is on the Chicago Programs webpage.

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ACM seeks new staff to join the Chicago Programs

ACM has posted announcements for positions with the Chicago Programs.

  • Executive Director, providing academic and administrative leadership and oversight for the three programs. Ideally, the Executive Director will have a PhD in a field relevant to the Chicago Programs, teaching experience in a liberal arts setting, a strong understanding of experiential learning programs, and substantive administrative experience.
  • Director of Chicago Arts, serving as a teacher, administrator, and creative force in the program. Ideally, the Director will have significant experience as an artist and instructor in the arts, a strong understanding of experiential learning programs, substantive administrative experience, and deep connections to the arts community in Chicago. MA or MFA required.
  • Director of Business and Society, serving as a teacher, administrator, and leader in this new ACM program. Ideally, the Director will have significant experience in both business and liberal arts education, a strong understanding of experiential learning programs, substantive administrative experience, and deep connections to the business community in Chicago. MA or MBA and college teaching experience preferred.

Please share these opportunities with colleagues whom you think would be interested. We invite your recommendations of candidates whom you feel would be appropriate. To do so, please contact John Ottenhoff at ACM (312-263-5000).

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ACM welcomes John Ottenhoff and Kristine Jones

This summer, John Ottenhoff (Vice President) and Kristine Jones (Director of Off-Campus Programs and Program Officer) joined the staff of the ACM office in Chicago.

As Vice President, John Ottenhoff is responsible for ACM's faculty development and administrative leadership initiatives. He also oversees the directors of off-campus study programs, and communications. He came to ACM from Alma College, where he had been Associate Provost since 2005. During 18 years at Alma, John was involved in a wide range of campus initiatives, such as developing an interdisciplinary communication major, starting a semester-long academic and service program in Kerala, India, and serving as Alma's first Faculty Coordinator for Instructional Technology. He served as faculty in the Department of English, including three years as department chair, winning awards for his teaching. He was a fellow at the Wabash Center for Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and is a co-founder of the online academic community which fosters scholarly understanding of the impact of technology on liberal arts education. John received his B.A. from Calvin College (MI) and his Ph.D. and M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago.

Kristine (Kris) Jones has taken up the new position of Director of Off-Campus Studies at ACM, which has consolidated oversight of operations for ACM's student programs in Chicago, Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. In previous experience, Kris directed the CIEE study abroad center in the Dominican Republic, creating two new programs there, and led a summer study away program for the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC). Most recently, she was Associate Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago, where she taught history and advised students. Kris also taught at Bowdoin College, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and was a Fulbright Professor in Chile and a Rockefeller Fellow at the University of Maryland. She graduated from Prescott College, completed a masters' degree in Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and earned her Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago.

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ACM news

First group of ACM students will leave for Botswana in January

Nearly 20 adventurous, inquisitive students will converge on Chicago shortly after New Year's Day, ready to embark as the first ACM group to spend a semester in Botswana. Following a brief orientation at the ACM office, the students will travel to Gaborone, the capital and center of economic and political life in that southern African nation.

On ACM's new program centered at the University of Botswana (UB), the students will take regular University classes and live in graduate student dormitories. The spring 2008 Program Director, Kim Lanegran (political science, Coe), will teach a course on "Globalization in Southern Africa," which will be required of the ACM students and will also be open to UB students. The curriculum includes Setswana language, an elective course, an independent study project, and field trips, both local and around Botswana.

See the ACM website for more details about the Culture and Society in Africa program in Botswana.

Visiting faculty sought for ACM off-campus study programs

From Chicago to Tanzania to India, and places in between as well, ACM has visiting faculty positions available on off-campus study programs.

Openings are available for the Fall 2008 Tanzania Program and the Spring 2009 Culture and Society in Africa (Botswana) program. If you are interested, please respond ASAP.

Applications for positions on 2009-2010 programs are due in early 2008. These positions include London (spring 2010), Florence (academic year 2009-10), India (summer 2009), Tanzania (fall 2009), Botswana (spring 2010) and at the Newberry Library in Chicago (fall 2009). Positions are also available with Japan Study (academic year 2009-10) and the Oak Ridge Science Semester (fall 2008).

Visiting faculty on ACM programs typically teach one course, guide students' independent study projects, work closely with local program staff, and are involved in aspects of program administration.

For more information, see the ACM website.

Robert Southard's passing is mourned

ACM and the GLCA mourn the sudden loss of a dear friend and colleague, Robert Southard, Professor of History at Earlham College and Faculty Co-Leader of the Newberry Seminar in the Humanities this term. Bob died suddenly on Tuesday, November 6, in Chicago, apparently of a heart attack.

All of us who worked with Bob recognized his generous spirit and his total commitment to his students and to our work together. His students spoke eloquently of his ability to inspire them (and make them laugh) in their seminar and the careful, attentive, and always helpful advice he offered as they pursued their research. Bob's colleagues on the Faculty Advisory Committees for the Newberry Seminar and Central European Studies know well his commitment to the success of the programs and the intellectual and moral leadership he exerted. He will be sorely missed.

An expert on European history and Jewish Studies, Bob Southard came to the Newberry Seminar this semester to lead a course on "Words and Deeds: Speech and Action in Western Culture" with his Earlham colleague, Kevin Miles. He is survived by his wife Edna and their two sons David and Jared.

Memorial contributions may be given to a fund in Robert's name at Earlham College, 801 National Rd. W., Richmond, IN 47374, or a favorite charity.

Waseda University, partner in the Japan Study program, commemorates 125 years

The progressive diplomat who founded Waseda University as a means to bring broader world knowledge to Japan's traditional educational system, developed a philosophy that the ideal life-span would be 125 years. In his honor, the University organized a world-class celebration that other universities might have organized at 100 years.

With presidents, chancellors and provosts from more than 80 universities and consortia around the world participating, breakout panels discussed the growing international interest in liberal arts education and other topics.

The presidents of ACM and GLCA, Christopher Welna and Richard Detweiler, joined the celebration with many distinguished Waseda alumni, including Japan's current prime minister Fukuda. The consortial presidents also met with ACM and GLCA students studying at Waseda this year, as well as Don Capener (Monmouth College), who is the current Japan Study Resident Director, and Michiyo Nagayama, the Tokyo-based Program Associate.

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ACM Notes is published by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) for faculty and administrators at the ACM member colleges.

Posted on November 12, 2007