2015 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement Meeting: Speakers

William Adams

Williams AdamsWilliam Adams is the tenth chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Adams, president of Colby College in Waterville, Maine from 2000 until his retirement on June 30, 2014, is a committed advocate for liberal arts education and brings to the Endowment a long record of leadership in higher education and the humanities.

A native of Birmingham, Michigan, and son of an auto industry executive, Adams earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Colorado College and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz History of Consciousness Program. He studied in France as a Fulbright Scholar before beginning his career in higher education with appointments to teach political philosophy at Santa Clara University in California and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He went on to coordinate the Great Works in Western Culture program at Stanford University and to serve as vice president and Secretary of Wesleyan University. He became president of Bucknell University in 1995 and president of Colby College in 2000.

Adams’s formal education was interrupted by three years of service in the Army, including one year in Vietnam. It was partly that experience, he says, that motivated him to study and teach in the humanities. “It made me serious in a certain way,” he says. “And as a 20-year-old combat infantry advisor, I came face to face, acutely, with questions that writers, artists, philosophers, and musicians examine in their work -- starting with, ‘What does it mean to be human?’”

In each of his professional roles, Adams has demonstrated a deep understanding of and commitment to the humanities as essential to education and to civic life. At Colby, for example, he led a $376-million capital campaign – the largest in Maine history – that included expansion of the Colby College Museum of Art and the gift of the $100-million Lunder Collection of American Art, the creation of a center for arts and humanities and a film studies program, and expansion of the College’s curriculum in creative writing and writing across the curriculum. He also spearheaded formal collaboration of the college with the Maine Film Center and chaired the Waterville Regional Arts and Community Center.

As senior president of the prestigious New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), Adams has been at the center of the national conversation on the cost and value of liberal arts education. “I see the power of what is happening on our campuses and among the alumni I meet across the country and around the world,” he says. “People who engage in a profound way with a broad range of disciplines – including, and in some cases especially, with the humanities -- are preparing to engage the challenges of life. They are creative and flexible thinkers; they acquire the habits of mind needed to find solutions to important problems; they can even appreciate the value of making mistakes and changing their minds. I am convinced that this kind of study is not merely defensible but critical to our national welfare.”

Adams, nicknamed Bro by his father in honor of a friend who died in World War Two, is married to Lauren Sterling, philanthropy specialist at Educare Central Maine and has a daughter and a stepson.

Danielle Allen

Danielle Allen

Danielle Allen is a renowned political philosopher and MacArthur Genius with the powerful ability to connect us to complex ideas about democracy, citizenship, and justice. In her new “tour de force” (New York Review of Books), Our Declaration, she explores America’s founding document and its continuing relevance in our society. A bold, incisive speaker, Allen challenges us to look beyond what we think we already know.

Danielle Allen is a political philosopher widely known for her work on justice and citizenship. A former right-wing Republican, Allen became interested in the gap between America's rich and poor and turned her views toward fighting inequality. "Fast-forward two decades, two doctorates, one $500,000 'genius grant' and a chair at Princeton," writes the Guardian of Allen's career, "and her work on contemporary citizenship is helping shape progressive politics on both sides of the Atlantic."

Allen has been named the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard and a professor in the university's Faculty of Arts and Sciences' Government Department (starting July 2015). She is currently a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and is the former dean of humanities at the University of Chicago. She is a contributor to the UK Labour party's policy review, is on the board of the Pulitzer Prize, and is a trustee at Princeton University. She previously worked on President Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, founded the Civic Knowledge Project to offer university lectures to the Chicago's poor, and was an instructor for the Odyssey Project (courses for adults at or below the poverty line). In 2002, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her ability to combine “the classicist’s careful attention to texts and language with the political theorist’s sophisticated and informed engagement.”

Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education (2004), Why Plato Wrote (2010), and Our Declaration (2014). She is a frequent public lecturer and regular guest on public radio, and has contributed to the Washington Post, Boston Review, Democracy, Cabinet, and The Nation.

Carol Bebelle

Carol BebelleCarol Bebelle is a native New Orleanian and a proud product of the New Orleans public school system. She received her undergraduate degree (BA) from Loyola University in sociology and her master’s degree (M.Ed.) from Tulane University in education administration. She spent nearly 20 years in the public sector as an administrator and planner of education, social and health programs. In 1990, Carol embarked on her path of independence which started with establishing Master Plan Development Associates (MPDA), a private consulting firm that offered planning, development and grant writing services to human service programs and initiatives. Her clients were non-profits, health, social, education, arts, cultural, religious programs, entrepreneurs and artists. Carol is a published poet whose work has appeared in several anthologies and journals over the years. In 1998, Carol Bebelle and Douglas Redd founded Ashe’ Cultural Arts Center, a pivotal strategy and force for the revitalization and transformation of Oretha Castle-Haley Boulevard, formerly known as Dryades Street. On this boulevard in Central City, the community has created a vision for a cultural corridor with African and Caribbean culture as the theme. Carol is a national advisory board member of Imagining America and co-designed Ashé’s partnership with College Unbound to open Ashé College Unbound.

Adam Bush

Adam BushAdam Bush is the chief academic officer of College Unbound ( www.collegeunbound.org); a college degree pathway working to create a more just higher education for underrepresented adult college students and influence higher education policy by building a curriculum around the changing world of work and civic engagement.  Adam co-designed College Unbound’s partnership with Carol Bebelle and the Ashé Cultural Arts Center ( www.ashecac.org) in New Orleans (La.) to open Ashé College Unbound. Adam received his Ph.D. in 2013 from USC’s American Studies and Ethnicity department for his dissertation, “Passing Notes in Class.” He is also a member of the next generation engagement collective of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education ( www.nerche.org), and a board member of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life and the past national director of IA’s Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) program ( www.imaginingamerica.org) a network dedicated to developing and recognizing new types of training, teaching, and professionalization in higher education centered around access, inclusion, and civic engagement for a new generation of graduate students and early career faculty.

Nancy Cantor

Nancy Cantor 2Nancy Cantor is Chancellor of Rutgers University – Newark.  An internationally known social psychologist, she has a long and distinguished record as a leader in higher education.  She is widely recognized for advocating for universities to be not traditional "ivory towers" removed from the problems of the world, but to be anchor institutions in their communities that collaborate with partners from all sectors to fulfill higher education’s promise as an engine of discovery, innovation, and social mobility, as well as a cultivator of democratic practice.

Cantor is invited to lecture and write extensively on this theme, as well as on other crucial issues in higher education such as rewarding public scholarship, sustainability, liberal arts education, the status of women in the academy, and racial justice and diversity.

She previously was chancellor and president of Syracuse University; chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, where she was closely involved in the university's defense of affirmative action in the cases Grutter and Gratz, decided by the Supreme Court in 2003. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, Cantor is a board member of the American Institutes for Research, New York Academy of Sciences, University of California at Davis Board of Advisers, and Say Yes to Education Foundation.  She has been honored with numerous awards, including the Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from the American Council on Education, the Woman of Achievement Award from the Anti-Defamation League, the Making a Difference for Women Award from the National Council for Research on Women, and the Frank W. Hale, Jr. Diversity Leadership Award from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, and in 2008 received one of higher education’s highest honors, the Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award.

Reva Curry

Reva CurryReva Curry, Vice-President for Instruction and Learning Services, Delta College (Mich.)
Reva Curry, Ph.D. received her bachelor in science degree from the Medical College of Georgia, a master in education from Augusta College and her Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.  Her experience includes 15 years as a full-time faculty member in health sciences in colleges in Georgia and Pennsylvania before joining administration in various roles at Salem Community College and then The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Her administrative career includes roles as assistant academic dean, interim dean of health sciences, dean of student services, vice-president of student services, and executive director of community engagement. In June, she began her position as Vice-President of Instruction and Learning Services at Delta College. Curry believes in the power of team building to address critical issues in higher education, and the importance of community colleges in accelerating students to achieve their career and education goals to help sustain and build a shrinking middle class.  One of her favorite quotes is from 19th century philosopher Henry David Thoreau, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Vincent Ilustre

Vincent IllustreVincent Ilustre is the Senior Director of Development, Regional Program for Tulane University.  Vincent manages the regional development program and handles several major markets as part of his portfolio. Previously, Vincent was the founding Executive Director of the Center for Public Service at Tulane (2004 – 2014). In this role, Vincent created and developed the Center’s infrastructure and managed its daily activities including the management of 20 full time staff members and the creation of various programs that addressed faculty, student and community needs to serve the university’s curricular public service graduation requirement. 

Vincent received his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Political Science from Tulane’s Paul Tulane College and his Master’s in Business Administration in Management and Marketing from Tulane’s Freeman School of Business. Vincent serves as Vice President of CASA New Orleans (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) and as a board member of the Partnership for Youth Development.  He also previously served on the following boards:  the  International Association for Service-learning and Community Engagement, VIALink, and a Commissioner with the  Louisiana Serve Commission.  Vincent is the recipient of numerous awards including Gambit Weekly’s 40 under 40, Diversity MBA Magazines Top 100 under 50 Diverse Emerging Leaders, Tulane’s Staff Excellence Award and the Yvette Milner Jones Award.

Frank E. Ross III, Ph.D.

Frank Ross

Frank E. Ross is the Vice President for Student Affairs and Professor of Educational Leadership and Development at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. His career in higher education administration has focused on integrative learning between student affairs and academic affairs to enhance the student experience in ways to support student retention and graduation.  He has demonstrated success providing leadership for co-curricular programs, enrollment management, and academic support services that lead to student success.  In both his professional and personal life, Dr. Ross is a strong advocate for diversity and social justice, and has provided leadership for many initiatives to support diverse learners—including efforts at two Hispanic Serving Institutions. He has experience advancing his passion for civic engagement through work with both the NASPA Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Initiative, and AASCU’s American Democracy Project. 

Ross completed his doctoral studies in higher education and student affairs at Indiana University, with master’s degrees from both Western Kentucky University and Ball State University. The majority of his presentations and publications focus on student development and success in the first college year.  His latest publication is a chapter in Higher Education Access and Choice for Latino Students: Critical Findings and Theoretical Perspectives.

He has received awards and recognition from the NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the National Resource Center on the First Year Experience and Students in Transition, the National Academic Advising Association, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the American College Personnel Association for his work and research.

Ross has held a number of leadership positions in student affairs professional organizations. Currently he serves as a member of the NASPA Board of Directors. Also within NASPA, he was a member of the James E. Scott Academy Board for senior student affairs officers, and served as the national director of Knowledge Communities. Ross has been selected to chair the 2016 NASPA Annual Conference.

Andrew J. Seligsohn

Andrew SeligsohnAndrew J. Seligsohn is president of Campus Compact, a coalition of 1100 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. Before joining Campus Compact in June of 2014, Seligsohn served as Associate Chancellor for Civic Engagement and Strategic Planning at Rutgers University–Camden, where he worked across the campus to develop the university’s engagement infrastructure to maximize community impact and student learning. While at Rutgers, Seligsohn led the creation of such programs as Rutgers-Camden Civic Scholars, Civic Engagement Faculty Fellows, and the Rutgers North Camden Schools Partnership. He also created a home in the Office of Civic Engagement for the Hill Family Center for College Access and Rutgers Future Scholars, both of which provide support for first-generation students as they prepare for, apply to, and embark on post-secondary educational opportunities. Seligsohn previously served as Director of Civic Engagement Learning in the Pace Center at Princeton University. He served as a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at Hartwick College, where he earned tenure and promotion to the rank of associate professor and was the elected chair of the faculty. Seligsohn also taught at both Princeton and Rutgers, and he has published articles and chapters on constitutional law, political theory, urban politics, and youth civic engagement. Seligsohn holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in modern intellectual history from Williams College.


  • Felicia DurhamStaff Associate, Academic Leadership and Changedurhamf@aascu.org(202) 478-4673


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