Caryn McTighe Musil

Senior Director of Civic Learning and Democracy Initiatives, Office of the President, AAC&U

Caryn McTighe Musil has had a distinguished career as a professor, non-profit executive, educational consultant, writer, and public speaker. After being an English and women’s studies professor at La Salle University that had admitted women students the year before she was hired, she learned first-hand that changing the demographics was only the first step toward the longer enterprise of creating inclusive institutions where everyone can thrive.  Dr. Musil began at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in 1991 and is currently Senior Director of Civic Learning and Democracy Initiatives after having served as Senior Vice President of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives for fourteen years. 

For the past three decades, she directed more than two dozen national and global projects involving colleges and universities and has been writing, speaking, and directing projects about women, diversity, equity, and inclusion, curriculum and faculty development, institutional change, and social responsibility initiatives. 

Dr. Musil was the lead author of A Crucible Moment: Civic Learning and Democracy’s Future, a national report released at the White House in 2012 seeking to prepare students to participate responsibly in a diverse US democracy. A Crucible Moment is the latest in a long line of investigations about democracy, diversity, and higher education that Dr. Musil has led. 

She was a senior leader in AAC&U’s ten-year initiative from 1992-2002, American Commitments: Diversity, Democracy, and Liberal Learning, which focused on incorporating into the curriculum and institutional life struggles for justice and full recognition across many US groups as they defined democracy’s promise as also applying to them. In that initiative, Dr. Musil directed three generations of a faculty and curriculum development project that involved 130 institutions and over 500 faculty members.  She coordinated the Ford Foundation-funded Tri-National Project with educators from India, South Africa, and the United States who explored the role of higher education in diverse democracies.  For the past seventeen years, she has been on the Steering Committee of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility, and Democracy in partnership with the Council of Europe. 

As AAC&U’s Senior Vice President, she launched a twelve-year initiative, Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility and directed the project to create the Global Learning Rubric in 2015 as part of AAC&U’s VALUE Rubrics to measure College Learning Outcomes.

As director of two National Endowment for the Humanities grants from 2012-2017, she worked with community colleges on diversity and democracy curriculum development and public forums on citizenship. Her most recent initiative, Civic Learning by Design in the Major, has thus far involved a national call for departmental models, a Peer Review issue, website case studies, several webinars, and a series of departmental mini grants to foster civic and social responsibility as integral to every student’s major.

In 1986 she was named a Pennsylvania “Woman of Distinction” by the Women’s Campaign Fund and in 1987 was chosen a Commonwealth Speaker by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. She was selected for Who’s Who of American Women in 1995.  The American Council on Education honored her in 2005 with the Donna Shavlik Award for sustained commitment to women’s advancement in higher education, and NASPA honored her in 2013 with the Outstanding Contribution to Higher Education Award.

Dr. Musil received her B.A. from Duke University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Northwestern University.  

Areas of Expertise: 
Women in Higher Education, Diversity in Higher Education, Curriculum and Faculty Development, Global Learning, Civic Engagement