For Immediate Release

David Tritelli
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202-884-0812 (office)

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

Cross Scholars Are Recognized for Their Commitment to Academic and Civic Responsibility and Their Promise as Future Leaders of Higher Education

Jan 8, 2018

Washington, DC—The Association of American Colleges and Universities announced today the 2018 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 awards honor the work of K. Patricia Cross, professor of higher education, emerita, at the University of California–Berkeley.

The 2018 recipients are:

Kelsey Melinda Boyle, Chemistry, California Institute of Technology

Arianna I. Celis Luna, Biochemistry, Montana State University

Tony J. Cunningham, Clinical Psychology, University of Notre Dame

Anahid Ebrahimi, Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware

Darla Ida Himeles, American Literature, Temple University

Rishi R. Masalia, Plant Biology, University of Georgia

Alexandra B. Reznik, English Literature, Duquesne University

The 2018 recipients were chosen in a rigorous process from a pool of more than 200 nominations from 119 institutions, noting the recipients’ demonstrated or potential leadership abilities in teaching and learning and their strong commitment to academic and civic responsibility. The Cross Award is open to all doctoral-level graduate students who are planning a career in higher education, regardless of academic department, nominated by a faculty member or administrator.

“We are truly grateful to Pat Cross for her deep and abiding commitment to championing the next generation of leaders in higher education. This year’s scholars have demonstrated excellence in teaching, scholarship, leadership, and civic engagement. We are delighted to honor them and look forward to the many ways in which they will shape the future of American higher education,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella.

“This year’s group represent the emergent understanding of “inclusive excellence” in American higher education,” said K. Patricia Cross. “They are serious and published researchers, award-winning teachers, campus leaders, and catalysts for campus/community involvement. Their stories are amazingly diverse . . . and, taken together . . . give us a vision of an American higher education that will serve our increasingly complex society.”  

L. Lee Knefelkamp, AAC&U senior fellow and a member of the award selection committee, said of Pat Cross: “Her thinking about how we can improve higher education has influenced fully six 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 higher education for the better. We are very pleased that she has now turned her attention to the next generation of academic leaders. The seven scholars selected this year are remarkable in their leadership, teaching excellence, and scholarly publication records. As AAC&U celebrates thirteen years of being involved with the award, we salute Pat's life of commitment to excellence in higher education.”

The 2018 Cross Scholars will be recognized at AAC&U’s 2018 Annual Meeting, “Can Higher Education Recapture the Elusive American Dream?” in Washington, DC, January 24–27. They will be honored and introduced to the AAC&U community during the Opening Plenary and will speak in the session, “Faculty of the Future: Voices from the Next Generation.” The Cross Award recipients will also 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 dedicated to advancing the vitality and public standing of liberal education by making quality and equity the foundations for excellence in undergraduate education in service to democracy. 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 1,400 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, faculty, and staff engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Through a broad range of activities, AAC&U reinforces the collective commitment to liberal education at the national, local, and global levels. Its high-quality programs, publications, research, meetings, institutes, public outreach efforts, and campus-based projects help individual institutions ensure that the quality of student learning is central to their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.