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ACE Fellow joins W&M president’s office

  • Ace fellow:
    Ace fellow:  Laura McGrane will spend the 2021-22 academic year working with W&M leaders as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow.  Submitted photo
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Laura McGrane will spend the 2021-22 academic year working in the William & Mary president’s office as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow. 

McGrane, associate provost for strategic initiatives at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania, will work with W&M leaders throughout the fall to explore a variety of areas, including planning and operations, finances and student affairs. From there, she will work closely with administrators on core strategic projects. 

“If the first few weeks are any indicator, the experience of being in a passionate, ambitious, successful and inclusive academic community is exhilarating,” McGrane said. “The conversations that I've had with administrators, staff, students and faculty have already opened up pathways into interdisciplinary processes on the academic program side. I’m thinking in new ways about how liberal arts institutions can and should be positioning themselves as ethical and creative leaders in this moment of both crisis and opportunity.” 

Established in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program is designed to strengthen institutional and leadership capacity in American higher education by identifying and preparing faculty and staff leaders for senior positions in college and university administration. Fifty-two fellows, nominated by the senior administration of their institutions, comprise the 2021-22 cohort at colleges and universities across the nation. 

Nearly 2,000 higher education leaders have participated in the ACE Fellows Program over the past five decades, with more than 80% of fellows having served as senior leaders of colleges and universities. 

McGrane said she chose to serve her fellowship at W&M because of the university’s reputation as a liberal arts institution, its breadth in the arts & sciences and its dedication to undergraduates that is “experiential, hands-on and inclusive across the disciplines.” She also was attracted to William & Mary for its professional schools – the law school, school of education and the Raymond A. Mason School of Business – as well as W&M’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, which provide models for innovation, civic engagement and sustainability. Moreover, she was drawn to W&M’s vast historical archive. 

“William & Mary is actively engaging its complex and often difficult past while looking toward the future,” said McGrane, who has been at Haverford College for 20 years. “The community work with the Bray School and William & Mary’s initiatives around diversity and equity are especially energizing.” 

McGrane previously served as founding director of Visual Culture Arts and Media (VCAM) and chair of English at Haverford College. She led the creation and design of VCAM and oversaw its Philadelphia Collaborative grant programming with the Mellon Foundation and other funders in arts, visual studies, technology and community practice. 

McGrane has also served as director of the Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities, which included the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and the Mellon Creative Residencies program. She is the U.S. District 4 Secretary for the Rhodes Scholarship and is on advisory boards for the Swarthmore Aydelotte Foundation and the Educational Ecologies Collective. 

“I've spent the past 20 years positioned in liberal arts colleges that have an intense devotion to undergraduate learning as educational institutions that think beyond academic divisions, that are responsive to shifting technologies as they prepare students for an accelerated global environment and that understand themselves in relation to community practices and partners,” McGrane said. 

The ACE Fellows Program combines in-person and virtual learning engagements, interactive learning tools, campus visits and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job senior administrative experience and skills development into a single academic year. The fellows are included in the highest level of decision-making while participating in administrative activities at their host institutions. Time is also spent investigating a specified issue of benefit to their nominating institutions for implementation upon the fellows’ return to campus at the conclusion of the fellowship placement.