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Press Room

Contact: Debra Humphreys
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202-387-3760 (ext. 422)
Humphreys@aacu.org

Association of American Colleges and Universities Announces Dr. Susan Elrod as New Director of
Project Kaleidoscope

Elrod to Lead New and Ongoing Science Initiatives at AAC&U

Washington, DC—September 8, 2009—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) announced today the selection of Dr. Susan Elrod, director of the Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education at California Polytechnic State University, as the new, incoming director of Project Kaleidoscope.  Dr. Elrod, professor of biological sciences, will assume the PKAL directorship in January 2010 when PKAL’s founding director, Jeanne L. Narum, steps down after twenty years at the helm.  Narum will continue to work with PKAL as an AAC&U senior fellow and as PKAL director emerita when Elrod assumes the PKAL directorship as a member of AAC&U’s senior staff.

The new appointment culminates a year of transition planning for a new and continuing affiliation between Project Kaleidoscope and the Association of American Colleges and Universities.  Project Kaleidoscope has been a forceful influence for shaping new educational pathways into science and mathematics that involve students extensively in “doing science as science is done.”  AAC&U, which comprises 1200 institutions drawn from the full spectrum of U.S. postsecondary education, is the nation’s leading catalyst for making liberal education the preferred educational framework for all students, including students who choose science or technology as the focus of their college studies.

The affiliation has been approved by the Board of Directors for both organizations.  The PKAL Board will be reconstituted as a leadership and advisory group for PKAL’s continuing work with the AAC&U community. 

“Susan Elrod is passionately committed to the work that PKAL and AAC&U will now do together,” said AAC&U president Carol Geary Schneider. “Already a recognized leader in the PKAL community, she shares our conviction that graduating liberally educated scientists, mathematicians, and engineers must be a top priority for U.S. higher education. Equally important, Dr. Elrod has been working for years on AAC&U’s bedrock value—the extension of our best and most powerful forms of learning to all college students, especially those historically underserved. She will be an energizing force for the next era of PKAL leadership in STEM learning and institutional change.”

In her new role as PKAL director, Elrod will join the AAC&U staff and lead an ambitious strategic agenda of projects and programs related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational reforms.  Among other responsibilities, Elrod will coordinate PKAL’s cadre of volunteer leaders in undergraduate STEM and conceptualize new initiatives that address emerging challenges and opportunities facing leaders with responsibility for the quality of undergraduate STEM learning.  She will also continue her leadership role in PKAL’s current project on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Learning.

Elrod was chosen as a result of a national search led by Mel George, president emeritus of St. Olaf College and the University of Missouri.  Other members of the search committee included: Daniel Sullivan, past chair of AAC&U’s board of directors, chair of the PKAL advisory board, and president emeritus, St. Lawrence University; Sean Decatur, dean of arts and sciences, Oberlin College; Mary Kirchhoff, director of the American Chemical Society’s Education Division; Terry Rhodes, vice president for quality, curriculum, and assessment, AAC&U; Vera Zdravkovich, former vice president for instruction, Prince George’s Community College; and Lynn Zimmerman, senior vice provost for external academic affairs and professor of biology, Emory University.

“I am thrilled that Susan Elrod will be taking the reins of PKAL in January,” said President Emeritus Daniel Sullivan.  “Susan has worked extensively within the PKAL network both as Co-Leader of the project, Facilitating Interdisciplinary Learning, and as a member of the PKAL Faculty 21. She was selected from a very strong group of applicants—a great signal that PKAL and its work under Jeanne’s leadership is highly respected in the science community, that STEM leaders across the nation recognize that the work is far from done, and that the STEM and PKAL communities see the incorporation of PKAL into AAC&U as a very positive step.”

Dr. Elrod holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of California - Davis and a B.S. in Biological Sciences from California State University - Chico.  Since joining the faculty in Biological Sciences at California State University - San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) in 1997, she has taught extensively, conducted scientific and educational research, and published widely.  Elrod currently serves as associate dean for strategic initiatives in the College of Science and Mathematics at Cal Poly and is the director of Cal Poly’s Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME), which is a university-wide center that focuses on programs that enhance STEM education.  She has been a leader in a wide array of STEM education initiatives, including the PKAL Keck Foundation-funded initiative, Facilitating Interdisciplinary Learning, and several STEM teacher education projects, such as CSU’s STAR (Science Teacher and Researcher), the California STEM Innovation Network (CSI-N) Initiatives, and a study of Elementary School Teacher Science Education with the California Council on Science and Technology.  Elrod is a PKAL F21 faculty member and has taught courses in microbiology, bioinformatics, biotechnology, and genetics.  At Cal Poly, she has served as associate chair of the Biological Sciences Department, chair of the Academic Senate Curriculum Committee, and special assistant to the Provost.  In 2006-07, she completed an American Council on Education Fellowship at the Colorado College where she studied critical leadership issues regarding integrative models of undergraduate learning and STEM education transformation.

“Having worked with her over the past several years on PKAL initiatives, I am very pleased Susan Elrod is assuming leadership responsibility at a critical juncture in the ongoing effort to ensure all undergraduates have access to a robust learning experience in mathematics and the various fields of science and engineering,” said current PKAL Director Jeanne Narum. “For PKAL, science for all has become a mantra, recognizing the challenge to prepare today’s undergraduates for leadership responsibilities in a global community in which both problems and solutions have a scientific and technological dimension. As a scientist, Susan understands the complexity and the necessity of addressing such a challenge, and is well-equipped to work with the broad PKAL and AAC&U community to advance our common agenda.”


About AAC&U

AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises 1200 member institutions -- including accredited public and private colleges and universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education at both the national and local levels and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

About PKAL

Since its founding in 1989, PKAL has been one of the leading advocates in the United States for building and sustaining strong undergraduate programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In its nearly two decades of existence and relying on its extensive network of volunteer agents of change among higher education faculty members and administrators, PKAL has developed far-reaching influence within the undergraduate STEM community. PKAL is organized as an informal alliance working to shape undergraduate STEM learning environments to attract undergraduate students to STEM fields, inspiring them to persist and succeed by giving them the personal experience with the joy of discovery and an awareness of the influence of science and technology in their world.

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