The American Council on Education (ACE) has named CMC’s Audrey Bilger as one of 31 emerging college and university leaders for the 2014-15 class of the ACE Fellows Program. Established in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program—the longest running leadership development program in the United States—focuses on identifying and preparing the next generation of senior leadership for the nation's colleges and universities.
Bilger is a professor of literature and faculty director of the Center for Writing and Public Discourse. Her areas of expertise include feminist theory, women's studies, English literature/English novel, comedy, media studies, writing, and journalism. Her most recent book, the anthology Here Come the Brides! Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage, (coedited with Michele Kort) was a 2013 Lambda Literary Award finalist.
“Audrey Bilger demonstrates the kind of dynamic, thoughtful engagement we need in higher education today: from her role as teacher-scholar to her brand of service leadership as the director of our Center for Writing and Public Discourse,” said CMC President Hiram Chodosh. “We are all thrilled that she has received this well-deserved honor, and expect that CMC will benefit immeasurably from the insights and training she will gain during the course of this prestigious fellowship.”
Joan Wodiska, ACE vice president and chief leadership officer, says the program’s uniqueness comes from its immersion of Fellows in learning experiences that provide insight and understanding into the changing environment of higher education. The ACE Fellows Program combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, visits to campuses and other higher education-related organizations, and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year.
During the placement, Fellows observe and work with the president and other senior officers at their host institution and attend decision-making meetings. They also conduct projects of pressing concern for their home institution, and at the end of the fellowship year, return with new knowledge and skills that contribute to capacity-building efforts.
Bilger says that in founding and directing the Center for Writing and Public Discourse, she has been able to think strategically about providing resources and programs for the CMC community, and she looks forward to expanding her horizons as an ACE Fellow. “I am deeply committed to higher education,” Bilger says. “The ACE program will give me the opportunity to learn more about leadership models at other institutions, and to develop skills to meet the challenges that colleges and universities currently face.”
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. “For nearly 50 years, the ACE Fellows Program has transformed lives and cultivated future leaders,” Wodiska said.
She noted the diversity of this year’s Fellows Program participants, by gender, race/ethnicity, institution type and disciplinary background.
“The very fact that such a diverse group has assembled in one program enhances every Fellow’s experience and will result in a far-reaching professional and learning network, one that will last well beyond the year of the fellowship,” Wodiska said. The class has a rich array of geographies and institutional missions, including three Fellows from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, one from a Hispanic-Serving Institution and another from a community college.
In addition to the anthology Here Come the Brides, Bilger is the author of Laughing Feminism: Subversive Comedy in Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen, and editor of a critical edition of Jane Collier’s 1753 An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting. She is on the editorial board of Pickering and Chatto's Gender and Genre series and the Burney Journal. Her work has appeared in Ms. magazine, the Ms. blog, Bitch magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.