Caryn McTighe Musil
AAC&U Distinguished Fellow, Office of the President, AAC&U
Caryn McTighe Musil is an independent consultant who has had a distinguished career as a professor, nonprofit executive, educational consultant, scholar, and public speaker. Her areas of expertise include women, diversity, equity and inclusion, curriculum and faculty development, institutional change, and civic learning and democratic engagement.
In July 2020, Dr. Musil retired from AAC&U after nearly three decades and having served in senior-level positions, including senior vice president and acting president. She was project director for more than two dozen national and global projects involving hundreds of colleges and universities.
Dr. Musil is lead author of A Crucible Moment: Civic Learning and Democracy’s Future, the national report, released at the White House in 2012, calling on higher education to invest more in preparing students to participate responsibly in a diverse US democracy. A Crucible Moment reflects her lifelong investigations about democracy, diversity, and higher education.
From 1992 to 2002, she was a senior leader of American Commitments: Diversity, Democracy, and Liberal Learning, an AAC&U initiative that focused on incorporating into the curriculum and institutional life struggles for justice and full recognition for US groups shut out of democracy’s promise. In that initiative, Dr. Musil directed three generations of a faculty and curriculum development project involving 130 institutions and over 500 faculty members. She also coordinated the five-year Ford Foundation–funded Tri-National Project through which educators from India, South Africa, and the United States explored the role of higher education in diverse democracies. Since its founding in 1999, she has served on the Steering Committee of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility, and Democracy, which works in collaboration with the Council of Europe.
As senior vice president, Dr. Musil reconceptualized AAC&U’s global portfolio, directing a series of campus-based curricular projects and serving as director of the project that created the Global Learning VALUE Rubric. From 2012 to 2015, she directed two National Endowment for the Humanities grants, working first with community colleges to embed diversity and democracy into the curriculum and then to sponsor campus public forums on contested notions of citizenship. From 2014 to 2020, she directed a series of projects for Civic Learning by Design in the Major, working with institutions to embed education for social responsibility and the public good as integral to every major.
Named a Pennsylvania “Woman of Distinction” in 1986 by the Women’s Campaign Fund, Dr. Musil was selected for Who’s Who of American Women in 1995. She was honored by the American Council on Education in 2005 with the Donna Shavlik Award for sustained commitment to women’s advancement in higher education, and by NASPA in 2013 with the Outstanding Contribution to Higher Education Award.
Dr. Musil received her BA from Duke University and her MA and PhD in English from Northwestern University.