The American Council on Education (ACE) announced that Dr. Kenya F. Ayers, Dean for Academic Enrichment and Engagement at Harper College, has been named an ACE Fellow for academic year 2015-16.
Established in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing the next generation of senior leadership for the nation’s colleges and universities. A total of 47 Fellows, nominated by the senior administration of their institutions, were selected this year following a rigorous application process.
Harper College President Dr. Ken Ender, himself an ACE Fellow in 1994-95, nominated Ayers. She’s the first Harper employee ever to be selected for the prestigious program, and one of only two new Fellows hailing from a community college.
“I am truly excited and humbled by this unparalleled opportunity for professional growth,” Ayers said. “My aim is to apply what I learn during my Fellowship year to support Harper’s commitment to student success.”
ACE President Molly Corbett Broad noted that the Fellows Program is celebrating its 50th anniversary this academic year. Of the nearly 2,000 leaders who have participated, more than 300 Fellows have served as CEOs of colleges or universities and more than 1,300 as provosts, vice presidents and deans.
“The ACE Fellows Program enters its second half century committed to further growing and strengthening the nation’s premier higher education leadership development program,” Broad said. “The diverse and talented 2015-16 Fellows class embodies why the program has been such a vital contributor to expanding the leadership pipeline for our nation’s colleges and universities.”
As Dean for Academic Enrichment and Engagement at Harper College, Ayers oversees a division of 125-plus faculty and staff in the areas of developmental reading and writing, academic English and adult education. She manages $6 million in budgetary resources, including more than $950,000 in grant funds. Ayers has led multiple initiatives responsible for forward momentum and sustainable transformation at the College including the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, the Hanover Park Education and Work Center and the Learning and Career Center in Prospect Heights.
A possibilities promoter who consistently leads with intentionality, humor and grace, Ayers holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Eastern Michigan University and a Doctorate of Education in Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston.
The ACE Fellows Program combines retreats, 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. Ayers will focus on an issue of concern to Harper College while spending the next academic year working with a college or university president and other senior officers at a host institution.