During this past quarter we raised more scholarship funds, expanded our Peer Mentoring Program to seven ACI members, held four conferences with more than 140 staff participating representing 16 member schools, and expanded our media presence to better advocate for liberal-arts education and our member colleges and universities.
ACI added eight new corporate trustees during this period and will be adding at least three more in the next quarter. Our ultimate goal is to have 44 corporate trustees representing small, medium and large, successful businesses.
We’ve created board planning teams and began planning our April 21, 2017, Benefit Reception and we've started planning our first Wealth Advisors Breakfast to take place in February. We’re excited to hold our first program at the City Club of Chicago on January 19 (rescheduled from October 2016), focused on the liberal arts. We will also will begin our three-year (2017-2019) strategic planning process shortly.
Thanks for your continued support this past year, and we look forward to a very dynamic and exciting 2017.
When she was in high school, Maria Anguiano remembered the college orchestra that visited her school each year to perform. The name of the school stayed with her, and when it came time to apply for colleges, Elmhurst College was among those to whom she applied.
There were other reasons: The college was close to her Melrose Park, Illinois, home, and she could commute. The campus was small, and she could have regular one-on-one interactions with her professors. "The people here whom I have met are very kind and open minded," Anguiano says. "It was such a great environment. I wanted to be part of it." Plus, Elmhurst is consistently rated among the best small colleges in the Midwest, which was also attractive, she says.
Born in Mexico, Anguiano came to the U.S. at age 7 with her family. Here, she learned English. Anguiano is the oldest of three sisters, and all live with their mother. One sister is in high school, and the other, middle school. Both hope to attend college. "As an older sister, I feel like I have to set an example for my younger sisters," says Anguiano, the first in her family to attend college.
She started as a biology major, but has since changed to a double major in finance and international business. She made the switch because biology didn't seem to fit with her interests. "I took a business course on campus, and I took global business," says Anguiano. "I want to work in a global company where I can interact with different people all over the world. I see how the world's growing, not just in business, but in everything."
She has connected to a variety of Elmhurst College campus activities, including Orientation for Student Leaders, a group that helps new students adjust to college life. Anguiano herself was the beneficiary of such help when she first attended Elmhurst College. She volunteers on the finance committee for the Student Government Association, is active with H.A.B.L.A.M.O.S., a campus organization for Latino students, and she participates in another cultural organization, Asian Club. Anguiano is also part of Direct Connections for first-generation students of color.
"Probably it's my major, but I love learning about and interacting with other people. One of the reasons why I attend school here is because of the people. With International Club, Asian Club and H.A.B.L.A.M.O.S., I think these are very powerful. Being a first-generation student and being a student of color, I identify with all those groups. I do it for my major but also do it for myself," she says.
This year, Anguiano was awarded an ACI General Scholarship to help with tuition expenses. "It helped me get more involved, she says. "I also work to help pay for my tuition. I really helped me financially, and helped me focus on extracurricular activities. It opened a lot of opportunities."
She is also grateful for her mother. "I got this chance because of my mom. She has sacrificed much for us so I could be here at school and get an opportunity a lot of people don't get. I'm very thankful."
Ten years ago, Cedar Brumm and his mother made a decision to send him from his home in Norman, Oklahoma to attend Principia Middle School, a private boarding school in St. Louis with close ties to his Christian Science Church. After middle school, Brumm attended Principia's Upper School for high-school students, and then, Principia College in Elsah, on the eastern side of the Mississippi River. It has been a life-changing experience that has helped this senior focus his business administration major and minors in global perspectives and education into a career in international business, possibly in sales.
"I love the idea of handling sales for a company overseas, working with other companies and clients, traveling and doing my job at the same time," he says. Eventually, Brumm hopes to be an entrepreneur, running his own business and handling business matters himself.
Why international business? A Principia College abroad experience to St. Lucia in Grenada was influential. "That experience was huge for me, realizing how different peoples' lives are, the culture, how people talk and treat each other, and how they think of the world. I learned a lot from being in a different place. I'd love to be a bridge between cultures," Brumm says.
An ACI General Scholarship, provided through Principia College, helped make it possible for Brumm to stay in school after the costs of his Grenada experience. "When I came back, I was having trouble making enough money to pay off the college bill. The scholarship allowed me to pay the bill I owed and register for classes for this semester," he says. Otherwise, Brumm may have had to leave college for a semester to work. "I want you to know how grateful I am to receive this scholarship. It was huge for me. Thank you so much," he adds.
Another influence in Brumm's life were his three summers as a counselor at two camps in Harrison, Maine: Camp Owatonna and Camp Newfound. There, he taught young people from ages 6 to 16 how to sail, and showed them how to climb a rockwall and fly through the air on a zipline. "Watching people overcoming fears and pushing boundaries is really valuable. I see applications of being a counselor and working at camp applying to work in sales – things such as being able to talk with parents or coach someone through an activity," Brumm says.
On the Principia campus, Brumm leads a group of students and friends who comprise an improv group, practicing six days a week and performing on campus. You may also see him and friends with their longboards – similar to skateboards, but longer – cruising through the campus. Or, you'll find him planning events for his dormitory, and playing intramural sports against other houses. Brumm was also a resident adviser.
The small, liberal arts experience of Principia College, and its academic rigor, has helped Brumm stretch into other fields such as graphic design, and multimedia marketing, and apply that to business. "I feel I'm being trained how to learn, how to be flexible and be a well-rounded individual in the workforce," Brumm says.
Emelio Davalos is passionate about politics and civic engagement. Since he began his college years at ACI member Elmhurst College, he's been involved in student government and service organizations. Davalos just finished a successful internship with Illinois State Rep. Deb Conroy of the 46th District, culminating in her reelection. He's executive vice president of the Elmhurst Student Government Association, and will continue in that role next semester. Eventually, he hopes to attend law school after completing a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in urban studies.
"I chose political science because I've always been interested in government," said Davalos, a junior from Hillside, Illinois. "Since I was young, I've been interested in how the processes work. As I got older, the idea of civic engagement really called to me. We, as citizens, have a duty to work with our government." Urban studies, which concentrates on cities and government, is a natural companion to the political science major, he said.
Born in Chicago, Davalos, who is bilingual, is the second oldest of four brothers. At age two, Davalos and his family returned to live in Mexico, then returned again to the United States when he was 12. Davalos attended Catholic schools, graduating from St. Joseph High School, a small high school in Westchester, Illinois. He considered many colleges and universities, including the University of Illinois-Chicago where his older brother graduated. Davalos learned about Elmhurst at a college fair, and ultimately it was a better fit, because of the small campus atmosphere and "personable" teachers.
This academic year, Davalos is the recipient of a FIHE/UPS Scholarship from ACI though Elmhurst College. The scholarship was a big help, he said, because much of the responsibility for tuition payments is his. "Without the scholarship, I might not be able to make up the difference, and I might not be at Elmhurst," he says. "I definitely wouldn't be as engaged as I could be, and it's very important to me to be engaged."
In addition to the student government association, Davalos is part of Elmhurst's honors program, works as a student ambassador with the Office of Student Admissions and is a member of H.A.B.L.A.M.O.S., a cultural group for Hispanic Americans. "I'm passionate about civic engagement, and engagement in general. I like being part of things, and I like other people to get involved as well," Davalos says.
A favorite campus activity for Davalos – which helped spur his interest in attending law school -- is "Mock Trial," a for-credit Elmhurst College course and team that teaches students about the American legal system. Team members prepare an assigned case, develop both the prosecution and defense, and compete against teams from other colleges. Attorneys and judges preside and critique the students' work. This fall, Davalos and his teammates won the American Mock Trial Association's (AMTA) Spirit of AMTA award for upholding the organization's ideals of honesty, civility and fair play.
Davalos adds that his family is an important factor in his college success. "The reason I'm so very dedicated at school and work is because it's really important to me that I succeed and do well. I'm first generation, and my brothers hope to go to college, too."
lllinois College and its president look to a future that inspires and empowers students
It's not unusual to see Dr. Barbara A. Farley helping new students move in to residence halls. Or, to see her at college athletic events. Or honoring students and their achievements. Or hosting guests at her campus home, Barnes House. Actively engaging students is part of the fabric of Illinois College in Jacksonville. While she participates, Farley often takes photographs and writes about these happenings in a variety of social media channels. She posts stories sent to her by other people, too. As president of Illinois College, Farley says storytelling is part of her leadership. Arguably the most prolific user of social media among presidents of ACI colleges and universities, Farley has been using social media since she began as president.
"I write all of this myself," she says. "I am telling the story of Illinois College every day, and the great people I get to meet. I've taken this as a challenge. It's a great way to expand the visibility of the institution."
Eureka College and its new president advance 'Uniquely Eureka' experience for students
Don't expect the interim president at Eureka College in central Illinois to sit still and wait for her successor. That isn't how Dr. Jamel Santa Cruze Wright sees her role, which began this past summer. Certainly it made sense to have an interim president, she says, because Eureka College is in the midst of rolling out a new, three-year strategic plan, which Wright managed in her previous role as vice president for strategic and diversity initiatives. Plus, the college is in the midst of reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission.
Embracing those challenges as part of her work, Wright is moving ahead on a number of initiatives without reservation. "Sometimes people think of an interim as a person who is there to just keep things going until they find a permanent person to move things forward," Wright says. "In my interim role, I completely plan to move things forward."
Quincy University's ACI Peer Mentoring Program nurtures five first-generation freshmen from small-town Illinois
For Randi Scheer, Kayce Smith and Kara McCleary, arriving at Quincy University for freshman year felt like moving to the big city. Compared to the small towns and even smaller high schools they left behind, settling into Quincy, Illinois’ community of 40,000+ seemed as daunting as moving to Chicago or New York. But at Quincy University, the three young women found they shared more than small-town upbringing and homesickness. Now they are linked by a shared commitment to future careers in nursing -- and by the support of ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program.
ACI’s Peer Mentoring model matches low-income, first-generation and/or minority freshmen (mentees) with sophomores, juniors or seniors from similar backgrounds (mentors). The older, wiser mentors guide mentees through the twists and turns of freshman year, building a “relationship bridge” between mentees and the campus community and its support services. The mentor-mentee relationship also provides the framework for an “early warning system” that can anticipate the particular challenges these students face and address those challenges before they derail students’ college career. The result is higher freshman-to-sophomore year retention rates and, ultimately, higher graduation rates for participating students.
Experience, expertise, thought leadership in higher education are hallmarks of ACI corporate partner Baker Tilly
Professionals in colleges and universities think about many things. Academic standards. Enrollments. Finances. Endowments. Scholarships. Accreditation. Safety. It's a big responsibility.
To help meet these and many other responsibilities, some 300 higher education institutions have turned to one firm for help with accounting, tax and other management issues they face: Baker Tilly. The firm, based in Chicago, was founded in 1931 and employs more than 2,500 people. Higher education is one of the firm’s focus industries with specialists working on a collaborative team. Today, the firm employs about 200 specialized higher education practitioners, serving large private research universities, public institutions and small private liberal arts colleges. Thirteen of the top 25 national universities depend on Baker Tilly for a variety of services.
For year-end giving, consider a tax-deductible gift to ACI!
You can make a difference for students who seek a quality private liberal arts education through your personal gift to ACI. Contributions help provide scholarships for motivated low-income and first-generation students from diverse backgrounds attending ACI colleges and universities.
With rising college tuition and fees, students from low-income families lack the financial resources to pay for college without assistance. ACI member institutions provide some form of financial aid to 90 percent of students, and the number of students needing financial aid continues to grow.
Your gift to ACI will go directly to students at our 22 colleges and universities who have the greatest financial need. Your financial support will strengthen their ability to stay in college and graduate.
To make your gift today, please visit our website or contact Mick Weltman at (312) 263-2391 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your gift will go a long way in helping underserved students succeed in college and in life. Thank you!
We're pleased to share with you our Annual Report for 2015-2016, now available through our website. This is the first such report we've produced in several years. Read features about ACI student scholars, member colleges and universities, ACI leaders, staff, key programs, facts, financial information, donors and corporate partners.
Please share this report with colleagues and friends, and let us hear your suggestions for our next report!
Next month, ACI officially welcomes Judson University as our 23rd member. Judson, based in Elgin, has an enrollment of about 1,300 students. It describes itself as an evangelical Christian university that provides a broadly based education in the liberal arts.
Judson will officially join ACI on January 1, 2017. Please join us in welcoming this new member to ACI!
“ACI is very excited to receive this generous grant from CIC to operate our Peer Mentoring Program across seven member campuses," said Mick Weltman, ACI executive director. "This year, we are privileged to support even more deserving students in gaining the academic and social skills that will carry them successfully through college to achieve their dreams of earning degrees.Thank you CIC for helping to make the dreams of our students come true.”
Weltman explained that the $30,000 grant will be awarded to ACI provided the organization raises $50,000 by March 31, 2017. ACI is focusing attention on fundraising for scholarships and peer mentoring this spring in anticipation of its April 21, 2017, Benefit Reception in Chicago.
"We are proud to support ACI and its member colleges and universities through CIC's First Opportunity Partners grant program," said Richard Ekman, CIC president. "Designed to support multi-college, collaborative projects, this grant will enhance access to, and success in, college by low-income, first-generation, minority and new American students at independent colleges and universities."
Be sure to save the date for ACI's 65th Anniversary Benefit Reception, April 21, 2017, at the University Club of Chicago, 76 East Monroe Street. This annual event is aimed at raising substantial funds to support scholarships for students attending ACI's 23 member colleges and universities. Keynote speaker is Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, Washington, with music provided by a group with Chicago Sinfonietta.
Attendance at the 2017 event is expected to be much bigger than at 2016 event, said Mick Weltman, ACI executive director. "This is a great opportunity to meet the ACI network of supporters, student scholars, board members, staff and presidents of member colleges and universities," he said. "We will also mark our 65th year as an organization, originally formed to help support independent higher education in Illinois. This remains as our primary mission today."
Watch for details as plans are announced for this big event!
Thank you Chicago's Ronald McDonald House and Will Work for Food
A big thank you to the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) near Lurie Children's Hospital, Chicago, and Will Work for Food, a Chicago-area catering company. On Wednesday, November 30, RMH hosted an Appreciation Reception for more than 40 ACI board of trustees members, presidents of member colleges and universities, corporate partners, special guests and staff. In addition to networking, attendees learned about ACI's 2017 plans from Jim Wylie, ACI board chair, and Mick Weltman, ACI executive director.
For more than four years, RMH has provided much-needed housing for families whose children are undergoing medical treatment care in Chicago. Currently the nation’s largest facility of its kind, the Ronald McDonald House has 66 guest rooms. More than 400 volunteers and a small staff help with operations, said Mark Shouger, managing director. Donations of supplies are welcome!