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Prestigious ACE Fellowship for Faculty Member Michelle Alvarez

One of two Minnesota college or university faculty selected this year.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 3-26-2013

Mankato, Minn. – Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education (ACE) in Washington, D.C., recently announced that Michelle Alvarez (pictured at right), associate professor of social work at Minnesota State University, Mankato, has been named an ACE Fellow for the academic year 2013-14.

The ACE Fellows Program, established in 1965, is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing promising senior faculty and administrators for responsible positions in college and university administration. Fifty ACE Fellows were selected this year following a rigorous application process after being nominated by the presidents or chancellors of their institutions. Of the 50 selected, Alvarez was one of just two faculty members representing a Minnesota college or university. (The complete list of the 2013-14 ACE Fellows Program Class is listed here.)

Minnesota State Mankato President Richard Davenport and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda Baer both said that Alvarez was an outstanding selection for the prestigious ACE Fellows Program.

Said Davenport: “Michelle is very talented and an analytical thinker. She will further expand her skills and knowledge of higher education through the ACE program as she aspires to be a leader in higher education.”

Said Baer: “The University is honored to have Dr. Alvarez selected as an ACE Fellow. She reflects the important skills and characteristics the university needs in future leaders. Her project will support the university efforts to improve student success through strengthening the data infrastructure and use of predictive analytics.”

Alvarez has demonstrated her leadership in a variety of capacities while serving as a Department of Social Work faculty member in Minnesota State Mankato’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She served as the university’s interim director of Research and Sponsored Programs during the academic year 2011-12.

She was also selected by Minnesota State Mankato to attend the Higher Education of Resource Services (HERS) Institute at Wellesley College, which she completed this month. HERS Institutes provide an intensive 12-day curriculum that prepares women faculty and administrators for institutional leadership roles. The Institutes focus on knowledge, skills and perspectives for achieving institutional priorities and maximizing institutional resources.

Alvarez currently serves as president of the School Social Work Association of America and as editor in chief of the National Association of Social Workers journal, “Children & Schools.”

In May, Alvarez will lead a team of social work students to Belize to provide short-term mental health services in three schools in San Pedro, Belize. Funding for the trip came through the university’s Office of the President as part of strategic support for the study abroad program in Belize that was awarded to College of Graduate Studies and Research Interim Dean Barry Ries.

Alvarez said her broader leadership experience and desire to seek a senior administration position in higher education led her to apply for an ACE Fellowship.

The ACE Fellows Program combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, campus visits and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single semester or year.

For Alvarez, it means she will spend the next academic year working with a college or university president and other senior officers at a host institution to be identified this summer.

During her year as an ACE Fellow, she will focus on an issue of concern to Minnesota State Mankato. For Alvarez, that will involve exploring the use of analytics in predicting and improving college retention and completion rates for diverse student populations (e.g. race, ethnicity, first generation, adult learners, and off-campus learners).

ACE Fellows also attend three week-long retreats on higher education issues organized by ACE, read extensively in the field and engage in other activities to enhance their knowledge about the challenges and opportunities confronting higher education today.

Margarita Benítez, interim director of ACE’s Emerging Leaders Group and the ACE Fellows Program, noted that most previous Fellows have advanced into major positions in academic administration. Nearly 2,000 higher education leaders have participated in the ACE Fellows Program since its inception, with more than 300 Fellows having served as chief executive officers of colleges or universities, and more than 1,300 having served as provosts, vice presidents and deans.

“The 2013-14 class of Fellows is a talented, diverse group,” Benítez said. “The ACE Fellows Program will strengthen their leadership skills, expand their networks and prepare them to tackle the wide array of issues facing the higher education community.”

Alvarez started work at Minnesota State Mankato in August 2007 as an assistant professor and was promoted in 2009 to associate professor. Prior to joining the Minnesota State Mankato, she taught at the University of Southern Indiana and also worked as a school social worker in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Alvarez is the second faculty member from Minnesota State Mankato ever to be selected as an ACE Fellow, according to the American Council on Education. Minnesota State Mankato faculty member James F. Wenner was selected as an ACE Fellow in 1967-68 in the third year of the program. Two current Minnesota State Mankato deans, Walter Zakahi (College of Arts and Humanities) and Vijendra Agarwal (College of Science, Engineering & Technology) were selected as ACE Fellows prior to coming to Minnesota State Mankato.

For more information from Minnesota State Mankato on Alvarez’s ACE Fellowship, please contact Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda Baer by email at or by phone at 507-389-1333.

For more information on the ACE fellowship program, please contact Ginnie Titterton, American Council on Education, by phone at 202-939-9368, or by email at

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more information, please visit or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,413 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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