North Central College - Naperville, IL

NAC&U to honor education researchers during Summer Institute at North Central

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Alexander Astin
Alexander Astin

The New American Colleges and Universities will honor education researchers Alexander and Helen Astin during the 2011 NAC&U Summer Institute June 22-24 at North Central College.

The Astins are the event’s keynote speakers and the first recipients of the NAC&U Ernest L. Boyer Award. The theme of the 15th annual Summer Institute is, “The New American Colleges and Universities: From Founding Conversations to 21st Century Best Practices.”  

The Summer Institute is held at a different institution each year and explores how comprehensive institutions that share the new American college mission—the intentional and innovative integration of liberal education, professional studies and civic responsibility—are positioned to provide intellectual and institutional leadership in addressing the challenges of the changing higher education and information-rich environment of the 21st century.
Helen Astin
The Astins, who are husband and wife, will speak about their latest collaboration, “Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Students’ Inner Lives.” The book is based on a study of undergraduates and shows that religious engagement among students declines somewhat during college, but their spirituality shows substantial growth. “Cultivating the Spirit” also incorporates findings from a national survey of faculty.

Alexander W. Astin is Allan M. Cartter Professor Emeritus of Higher Education at the University of California, Los Angeles and Founding Director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. He has served as Director of Research for both the American Council on Education and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. He is the Founding Director of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, an ongoing national study of some 12 million students, 300,000 faculty and staff, and 1,600 higher education institutions.

He has authored 20 books and some 300 other publications in the field of higher education, and has been a recipient of awards for outstanding research from more than a dozen national associations and professional societies. He has also been elected to membership in the National Academy of Education, has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and is the recipient of 11 honorary degrees. A 1990 study in the Journal of Higher Education identified Dr. Astin as the most frequently-cited author in the field of higher education.

Helen S. Astin, a psychologist, is distinguished Professor Emeritus of Higher Education and Senior Scholar of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. She served as the Associate Provost of the College of Letters and Science at UCLA from 1983 to 1987. She has been a trustee of Mount St. Mary's College since 1985 and served as a trustee of Hampshire College from 1972 to 1979.

She has served on the Board of Governors of the Center for Creative Leadership and on the Board of the National Council for Research on Women. In the American Psychological Association, she has served on the Boards of Policy and Planning and Education and Training and has been president of the Division of the Psychology of Women. She has also served as Chair of the Board of the American Association for Higher Education.

NAC&U announced the establishment of the Ernest L. Boyer Award in September 2010. As president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the late Ernest L. Boyer called for a “New American College” to renew the tradition of higher education service to society—a “sturdy American hybrid” combining features of the British liberal arts college, German research university and American land grant university traditions. Boyer broadened notions of scholarship to include teaching and applied and integrative work, as well as discovery in a discipline, leading to new faculty and administrative roles and inter-institutional collaborations. His encouragement contributed to the founding of the Associated New American Colleges, now the New American Colleges and Universities, at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1995.

Boyer’s quest for connecting theory to practice and thought to action, in and out of the classroom, continues to inspire The New American Colleges & Universities, as well as other colleges and universities throughout the country, to creatively integrate liberal and professional studies with community engagement. The Consortium seeks to recognize the continuing impact that Ernest Boyer has on higher education by establishing this award in his honor.

Visit the websites of North Central College or NAC&U to learn more about the 2011 Summer Institute.

Founded in 1995, The New American Colleges and Universities is a national consortium of 20 selective, small to mid-size (2,000 to 7,500 students) independent colleges and universities dedicated to the purposeful integration of liberal education, professional studies, and civic engagement. To improve the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning among its members, The New American Colleges and Universities sponsors projects and conferences, administrator and faculty affinity groups, surveys and data benchmarking, and international study programs. The New American Colleges and Universities collectively and individually are often cited as models of the intentional integration of teaching and learning, scholarship, and service. Visit to learn more.

Founded in 1861 and celebrating its Sesquicentennial in 2011, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. With more than 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes. Visit to learn more.