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January 13, 2005

George Kuh Honored with Virginia B. Smith Innovative Leadership Award for 2005

Award Recognizes National Leader in Higher Education


San Jose, CA-- George Kuh, a national leader in addressing and improving the quality of undergraduate education in the United States, has been awarded the Virginia B. Smith Innovative Leadership Award for 2005.

The award recognizes individuals whose leadership in higher education has resulted in better ways to educate people to participate in and improve an open and inclusive democratic society.

Kuh directs the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), an annual survey of more than half a million college students that provides information to colleges, universities, states, and policymakers to improve undergraduate education. Over the past five years, the NSSE project has been at the forefront in reshaping national perceptions about student success and the quality of undergraduate study.

"Through his work at NSSE, George Kuh has helped to redefine the concept of quality in undergraduate education," said Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, one of the sponsors of the award. "Even more importantly, he has developed practical tools for campus improvement."

The core idea of the NSSE project is relatively simple: students learn more if they are engaged in those practices-both inside and outside the classroom-that have been shown to promote student learning. For example, when faculty members expect students to study more and when they structure their classes to achieve this end, students are more productive. As another example, when students participate in a community project linked to a course, they report greater gains in personal, social and ethical development.

Under Kuh's leadership, NSSE has developed several tools to help colleges and universities use the survey results to improve their services. This has included national roundtables, regional users workshops, an accreditation tool kit, and a new five-year initiative to improve student attainment at minority-serving institutions.

"NSSE has elevated campus-level discussion on student engagement, providing university leaders with the comparative data needed to evaluate the campus learning environment and implement needed change," said Molly Broad, President of the University of North Carolina.

"NSSE was launched with ambitious aims-among them to be widely used by institutions to improve undergraduate education and to help reshape public opinions about college quality," said Peter Ewell, Vice President of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. "In five short years, NSSE has done all this and more."

Kuh is Chancellor's Professor of Higher Education and director of the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University Bloomington, where the NSSE project is housed. At Indiana University, he also served as Associate Dean of the Faculties for the Bloomington campus from 1997 to 2000, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Education from 1985 to 1988, and Chairperson of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from 1982 to 1984.

He has more than 250 publications and has made several hundred presentations on college student development, assessment strategies for postsecondary institutions, and campus cultures. He received a B.A. from Luther College in 1968, an M.S. from St. Cloud State University in 1971, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1975.

The Innovative Leadership Award is named for Virginia B. Smith, who has made extraordinary contributions in advancing innovative strategies to improve opportunity and excellence in higher education throughout her career, as educator, foundation director, and public policy scholar. She is President Emerita of Vassar College. She has served as founding Director of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), Associate Director of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, and Assistant Vice President of the University of California system. Smith is also a founding Board Member of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Previous winners of this award include Barbara Leigh Smith and Jean MacGregor, Co-Directors of The Pew Charitable Trusts' National Learning Communities Project; Robert Olin, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama; Tim Riordan, Professor of Philosophy and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Alverno College Institute; Peter Ewell, Senior Associate at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS); and Susana Navarro, Executive Director of the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence.

This year's award will be publicly presented to Mr. Kuh at the annual national conference of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) on March 20, 2005, in Atlanta. In conjunction with the award, AAHE sponsors the Virginia B. Smith Leadership Lecture, to be presented at the conference.

The Virginia B. Smith Innovative Leadership Award is jointly administered by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

A steering committee for the award oversees nominations, and a stipend of $2,500 accompanies each award.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. It is not affiliated with any institution of higher education or with any government agency. The National Center conducts policy research and fosters public awareness and discussion of public policy issues affecting education and training beyond high school. The purpose of the National Center's studies and reports is to stimulate public policies that will improve the effectiveness and accessibility of higher education.

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is a nonprofit organization committed to providing better access to education for adults through partnerships with business, government, labor, and higher education. CAEL works to remove policy and organizational barriers to learning opportunities, identifies and disseminates effective practices, and delivers value-added services.

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For more about the Virginia B. Smith Award click HERE


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