Vol. 19, No. 9Oct. 28, 1999

For this ACE fellow, the campus is her classroom

Elizabeth Dale, director of business and facilities services at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, is an American Council on Education (ACE) fellow on campus for the year, working with President David P. Roselle and Executive Vice President David E. Hollowell.

Established in 1965 with the intent of grooming university administrators for top-level positions, the ACE Fellows Program has seen more than 200 of its approximately 1,200 participants become university presidents and another 400 become provosts or vice presidents.

At UMass-Amherst, which serves an undergraduate and graduate student population of about 23,000, Dale directs a myriad of departments and services with a combined annual budget of $22 million and is an adjunct faculty member of UMass-Amherst's top-ranked Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration. She received an Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts with a concentration in education policy, research and administration.

"The University of Delaware was my first choice for a host institution for many reasons," Dale said, "one being that I am very interested in studying how universities use technology both to improve instruction and control costs. Dr. Roselle and Mr. Hollowell have demonstrated exemplary leadership in this regard, and I look forward to learning from them."

In addition to examining how UD has so successfully integrated technology into nearly every aspect of its curriculum and operations and gaining a "presidential perspective" on the institution as a whole, Dale said she wants to explore this year what impact the rise of nontraditional providers of higher education, such as the University of Phoenix, might have on traditional universities. She also plans to study a host of university administration issues, including the effect of demographic shifts on admissions, cost management and physical plant maintenance.

Many universities nationwide, Dale said, have deferred investing in their physical plant to save money in the short-term, thereby incurring higher long-term costs. She points out that deferred maintenance, however, is not a problem UD faces. "Dr. Roselle had the insight a decade ago to invest in UD's physical resources," Dale explained, "with the result that this campus is in much better physical shape than most. This is a policy that Mr. Hollowell has fully supported. I want to study in detail UD's capital investment strategies over the past decade."

Applicants for an ACE fellowship undergo a series of interviews in Washington, D.C., where ACE is headquartered, before being named fellows. Then they must find an institution willing to host them for a year. Their salary and benefits are paid by their sponsoring institutions.

Each of the current 32 ACE fellows belongs to one of five learning groups, whose members communicate daily by e-mail. Dale belongs to the Technology Learning Group, to which she will contribute what she learns at UD. All the fellows come together three times during the fellowship year for intensive one-week seminars on such topics as financial management, athletics and trends in higher education. Two weeks of the fellowship year are spent in a corporate setting and another two weeks are spent at a university outside the U.S.

Not only does the ACE Fellows Program provide its fellows with valuable administrative training, it also benefits the sponsoring and host institutions alike. UMass-Amherst will welcome back an administrator who has intensively studied both specific aspects of UD and larger issues faced by all universities, while UD gains this year a seasoned professional who provides an outsider's perspective as well as focused attention to special projects.

One of the projects at UD to which Dale will devote her time is working with the housing assignments office on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues.

She also will be drafting a proposal nominating the integration of problem-based learning into UD's curriculum for an ACE Academic Excellence and Cost Management National Award.

"UD has long been a participant in the ACE Fellows Program, as both a hosting and sponsoring university," Hollowell said. "It's good for us to have someone from the outside share with us their professional perspective and expertise. For example, with Elizabeth's background in conference services, we look forward to her input on what we're doing right in this area and what we could do better."

UD sponsored Kate Conway-Turner, individual and family studies, in 1996-97, who spent her fellowship year being mentored at the College of New Jersey, and John C. Cavanaugh in 1994-95, now provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Last year UD hosted Anny Morrobel-Sosa, who is a professor of materials engineering and chairperson of the academic senate at California Polytechnic State University.

"It's a great privilege to be here, for UD is really a model university," Dale said. "I've been warmly welcomed and I look forward to being part of this dynamic community."

-Christina Bielaska-DuVernay