AAC&U Presidents’ Trust Symposium 2020

Leading Change and Bridging Divides

Thursday, January 23 – Friday, January 24
Washington, DC

The annual AAC&U Presidents’ Trust Symposium provides opportunities for chief executive officers to network among themselves and to engage with leading experts on the most pressing issues facing higher education. The 2020 symposium will focus on challenges related to freedom of speech on campus, how to foster and sustain dialogue across divergent points of view, leading for innovation, and the potential of community partnerships to promote fiscal stability and student success. Participation in the Symposium is open only to presidents, chief executive officers, and invited guests.

Current Trust Members

Join the Presidents’ Trust


You confirm your attendance for the Symposium as part of your registration for the Annual Meeting. Advance registration is required. Registration is complimentary for members of the AAC&U Presidents’ Trust. A $250 registration fee applies to non-members. The registration fee may be applied toward your Presidents’ Trust membership.


JANUARY 23, 2020


1:30 – 3:00 p.m.



Lynn Pasquerella, President, AAC&U
Grant Cornwell, President, Rollins College (Chair of the Presidents’ Trust)
Mary Dana Hinton, President, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University (Incoming chair of the Presidents’ Trust)

3:15 – 4:15 p.m.


Leveraging Institutional Commitment to Community as a Model for Financial Sustainability

Richard Guarasci, President Emeritus, Wagner College (Moderator)
Jonathan Alger, President, James Madison University
Lily McNair, President, Tuskegee University
Lenore Rodicio, Executive Vice President and Provost, Miami Dade College
Nyeema Watson, Associate Chancellor for Civic Engagement, Rutgers-Camden

4:30 – 5:15 p.m.


Why Understanding Voting is Really About Understanding Learning: Results from the 2016 NSLVE Study

Nancy Thomas, Director, Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, Tufts University

5:15 – 5:30 p.m.



Lynn Pasquerella, President, AAC&U

8:00 – 9:30 p.m.


Please join us for the Presidents’ Reception

Location TBD


JANUARY 24, 2020


8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

PRESIDENTS’ BREAKFAST: Confronting White Supremacy and Hate Speech on Campus

Jonathan Friedman, Project Director, Campus Free Speech, PEN America
Cynthia Miller-Idriss, Professor of Sociology, American University

10:15 – 11:00 a.m.

Leading Through Innovation

Richard Baraniuk, OpenStax
Rich DeMillo, Center for 21st Century Universities
Derrick Anderson, Arizona State University

11:15 – 12:00 p.m.



12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

PRESIDENTS’ LUNCHEON: Free Speech and the Politics of Campus Today

Marjorie Hass, President, Rhodes College (Moderator)
Ulrich Baer, Professor in Comparative/German Literature and Photography and Imaging, New York University
Frederick Lawrence, Secretary and CEO, Phi Beta Kappa Society

2:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Following lunch, we invite you to join us for a special joint session developed in partnership with the American Council of Academic Deans (ACAD) in Room. Session description below.



In May 2018, the Chronicle of Higher Education posed the question, “Is College President ‘the toughest Job in the Nation’?” Whether rhetorical or not – the question deserves consideration. Amid scandals, scarce resources, waning public support, and persistent disinvestment by state and federal governments, what will encourage the next generation of college leaders to take the helm? And, equally important, what will ensure that the pipeline of talent is populated with future leaders who reflect the increasingly diverse population of college students? This session, co-developed by AAC&U and ACAD, welcomes leaders at all levels to discuss and reflect upon the issues that create barriers to leadership, particularly for rising leaders of color. Participants will explore strategies for supporting professional development and mentorship at the campus and national levels that will promote inclusive excellence and sustained change leadership for years to come.