For Immediate Release

Dawn Michele Whitehead
Interim Vice President of Communications

Ten Graduate Students Honored with K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award

Students Recognized for Commitment to Academic and Civic Responsibility and for their Promise as Future Leaders of Higher Education
Jan 15, 2015

Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities announced today the 2015 recipients of the annual K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. This award recognizes graduate students who show exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education; who demonstrate a commitment to developing academic and civic responsibility in themselves and in others; and whose work reflects a strong emphasis on teaching and learning. The award is named in honor of K. Patricia Cross, professor of higher education, emerita, at the University of California, Berkeley.

The 2015 recipients are:

Anya Adair, English Language and Literature, Yale University
Rebecca Christensen, Higher Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Neil Conner, Geography, University of Tennessee
Victoria H. Febrer, Visual Arts, Stony Brook University
Carolyn Fisher, Biochemistry, Cornell University
Jacob Grohs, Educational Psychology, Virginia Tech
Rebekah Le, Developmental Biology, University of California, Irvine
Hannah Miller, Teacher Education, Michigan State University
Naghme Naseri Morlock, Sociology, University of Colorado Boulder
Erin Marie Rentschler, English, Duquesne University

These individuals were chosen in a rigorous process from a pool of 270 nominations noting nominees’ leadership ability or potential for exercising leadership in teaching and learning, and their strong commitment to academic and civic responsibility.

“AAC&U is honored to have the opportunity to identify and celebrate these inspiring young leaders,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.

“This is another stellar year for the future of faculty leadership," said K. Patricia Cross. "Of more than 270 nominations by 135 institutions across a wide range of academic disciplines, the ten award recipients include an impressive number of Outstanding Teaching Awards, a wide variety of experiences serving local and worldwide communities, and a demonstrated concern for the development of others.

It is heartwarming to see these impressive and dedicated teachers join the faculties of our colleges and universities, and it is especially appropriate that AAC&U should take the lead in recognizing future faculty leaders."

L. Lee Knefelkamp, AAC&U senior scholar, and a member of the award selection committee, said of Pat Cross: “Her thinking about how we can improve higher education has influenced several generations of scholars; and her analysis and advocacy of the needs of adult learners, first-generation college students, and underserved students has changed the quality of a college education for the better. We are very pleased that she has now turned her attention to the next generation of academic leaders. The ten scholars selected this year are remarkable in their leadership, teaching excellence, and scholarly publication records.  They are a true reflection of Pat Cross' life of commitment to excellence in higher education.”

The 2015 Cross Scholars will be introduced to the AAC&U community at its 2015 Annual Meeting, “Liberal Education, Global Flourishing, and the Equity Imperative,” to be held in Washington, DC, from January 21-24, 2015. The 2015 Cross Scholars will be honored at the Opening Plenary. They will also be presenters in the session, “Faculty of the Future: Voices from the Next Generation.” The Cross awardees will participate in other sessions and meetings throughout the conference.

For more information about AAC&U, its Annual Meeting, or the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, visit

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 more than 1,300 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive 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 and inclusive excellence 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.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at