URI math professor named American Council on Education Fellow

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WASHINGTON — April 4, 2012 — University of Rhode Island math professor Nancy Eaton has been named an American Council on Education Fellow for the 2012-13 academic year, Molly Corbett Broad, president of the council, announced Wednesday.

Eaton, chair of the Math Department and a professor at the University since 2005, began her URI career as an assistant professor in 1992 and she became an associate professor in 1998.

Eaton said the last few years as chair of the math department and the Faculty Senate have opened her eyes to how the University works and have fueled her interest in becoming more involved in administration.

“I felt like I had input into the direction the University is taking,” Eaton said. “It felt really good to have a chance to see how people work, how the institution works and have my opinion valued.”

Eaton sees potentially huge benefits not just for herself professionally, but also for the University.

“I want to learn about an area that I do not have a lot of familiarity with — getting funds either through granting agencies, foundation support or private funding to start a math and science center,” Eaton said. “Really, in order to develop something like that, you can do it in a small way or a big way. I’d like to do it in a big way.”

She has not yet determined the institution at which she will serve her fellowship, but she said she’d like to find one that has an established math and science center so she can learn about how the school got its center off the ground.

In addition to her work with the University’s administration, Eaton has conducted research on graph theory and she teaches three upper-level courses in that area. She has published 12 research papers and has two more that are in preprint.

Eaton received her doctorate in mathematics from Emory University in 1992 and her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York-New Paltz in 1985. Before entering academia, she worked as a systems analyst at Central Hudson Gas and Electric Co. from 1985 to 1987.

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-seven Fellows, nominated by the presidents or chancellors of their institutions, were selected this year following a rigorous application process.

Sharon A. McDade, director of the ACE Fellows Program, noted that most previous Fellows have advanced into major positions in academic administration. Of the more than 1,700 participants in the first 47 years of the program, more than 300 have become chief executive officers and more than 1,100 have become provosts, vice presidents, or deans.

“We’re extremely pleased with the strength of the incoming class,” McDade said. “The Fellows Program will sharpen and enhance their leadership skills and their network, and prepare them to address issues of concern to the higher education community.”

Each ACE Fellow will focus on an issue of concern to the nominating institution while spending the next academic year working with a college or university president and other senior officers at a host institution. 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. The Fellows are included in the highest level of decision making while participating in administrative activities and learning about an issue to benefit URI.

Fellows 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.

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 www.acenet.edu or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.