Pomona College President David Oxtoby was elected chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) at the organization’s annual meeting in January.
Out of approximately 25 board members, Oxtoby was chosen to replace Miami Dade College president Eduardo Padrn as Board Chair. The Board meets three times a year, and Oxtoby will hold the position for one year.
Last year, Oxtoby served as the board’s Vice Chair, so he said he was not surprised by the election.
“I’m very much looking forward to it,” Oxtoby said. “I like that the organization really focuses on the core values of education. It isn’t about lobbying or the more background side of higher education. It’s really focused on the education process: on students and what they learn, how faculty can be better teachers, and how presidents and deans can do a better job.”
AAC&U is comprised of over 1,200 American institutions as well as some international affiliate members. The organization includes universities, liberal arts colleges, and two-year community colleges that are committed to promoting a broad-based, liberal education.
As chair, Oxtoby will be involved in setting the Board’s agenda and consulting with AAC&U president Carol Geary Schneider about the agenda for the association.
Oxtoby said this is an exciting time for the organization because it is involved in some of the conversations in Washington, D.C. about education.
“We have things happening on the national level in Washington,” he said. “We have a federal government and administration that has been much more interested in education than we’ve seen in a long time. I think that there is a recognition that the problems in the economy and the problems in education are connected to each other.”
Since Oxtoby was named president of Pomona in 2003, he has worked to expand accessibility for students and diversity on campus by expanding Pomona’s reach nationally and internationally. He said AAC&U and its members have been particularly interested in the international nature of education and have been engaged in conversations with colleges and universities around the world about the concept of liberal education. He said he believes this is an area in which Pomona brings experience to the organization and may have some influence.
Oxtoby added that the AAC&U has focused on setting educational goals and deciding how to accomplish those goals. He said Pomona has occasionally struggled with this process, and the college could benefit from the collective experience of the organization and its members.
Although Oxtoby said taking on the position of Board Chair would be an added commitment, he said it would not affect his job as Pomona president.
“It’s something you take on as an extra responsibility because you’re part of the whole higher education community,” he said. “I think every president expects to do some sort of service for the whole community outside of his or her home institution. This is one of the forms of service that I am choosing to get involved with.”