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Mills named American Council on Education Fellow

BOONE—Professor Suzi Mills from the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University has been named an American Council on Education Fellow for the 2014-15 academic year.

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The ACE Fellows Program is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing emerging leaders for senior positions in college and university administration.

Mills is among 31 fellows nominated by the senior administration of their institutions who were selected for the fellowship following a rigorous application process.

During the fellowship, Mills plans to focus on her interests in international education by studying the intersection of issues of diversity and globalization, issues of the 21st-century campus and how to address those issues at Appalachian.

Those issues, she said, include creating and maintaining a climate of inclusion for students, staff and faculty, balancing quality education with demands for more online course offerings, supporting research endeavors and eliminating barriers for transfer students pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

“I’m really interested in inclusion that brings people together as a community,” Mills said. “I’d like to see a real tone-setting role for Appalachian in the areas of inclusion by looking at the issue more broadly than just various ethnic groups, skin color, gender identification or religion.”

Mills recently spent two weeks visiting Novgorod State University in northwest Russia and spent six months in 2010 lecturing and conducting research at The University of Zululand and The University of the Free State in South Africa through a Fulbright Scholar Grant.

The ACE Fellows Program combines three retreats on higher education issues organized by ACE, interactive learning opportunities, campus visits and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single semester or year. Each ACE fellow will focus on an issue of concern to their home campus while spending a semester working with a college or university president and other senior officers at a host institution.

Her off-campus spring assignment through ACE has yet to be determined.

Joan Wodiska, ACE vice president and chief leadership officer, said that many previous fellows have advanced into major positions in academic administration. At Appalachian, Hayes School of Music Dean Bill Pelto was an ACE fellow while an associate dean at Ithaca College. Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Gonzalez was an ACE fellow while associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Kentucky’s College of Allied Health Professions. Professor Jeff Ramsdell from Appalachian’s Department of Technology and Environmental Design was an ACE Fellow during the 2013-14 academic year.

“It’s quite an investment on the part of the university, because they are helping fund the work that I will do away from campus and help fund instructors who will teach in my absence,” Mills said.

Nearly 2,000 higher education leaders have participated in the ACE Fellows Program since its inception, with more than 300 Fellows having served as chief executive officers of colleges or universities, and more than 1,300 having served as provosts, vice presidents and deans.

“For nearly 50 years, the ACE Fellows Program has transformed lives and grown future leaders,” said Joan Wodiska, ACE vice president and chief leadership officer. “The ACE Fellows Program is unique. The program immerses Fellows in learning experiences to gain insight and understanding into the changing environment of higher education.”