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Press Release

Barbara Laskin

Macalester Professor Named American Council on Education Fellow

St. Paul, Minn. - The American Council on Education (ACE) has selected 39 college and university senior faculty and administrators for the 2007-08 ACE Fellows Program, including Macalester Professor Sonita Sarker, of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department and the English Department.  Three fellows are sponsored by the F. Marian Bishop Charitable Trust Leadership Program and one partially supported by Lumina Foundation for Education.

Established in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program—the longest running leadership development program in the United States—focuses on identifying and preparing senior leadership for the nation’s colleges and universities.

“I’m very pleased that Professor Sarker was chosen as an ACE Fellow,” said Macalester Provost Diane P. Michelfelder.  “She has outstanding potential to take on a significant administrative leadership role. The ACE experience offers a remarkable opportunity for Fellows to develop this potential and to acquire a deeper knowledge of higher education administration across a wide variety of institutional contexts.”

The ACE Fellows Program combines seminars, interactive learning opportunities, campus events, 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 ACE fellowship is a great privilege and opportunity for me to serve in new roles, as an agent for positive social and intellectual change,” said Sarker.  “Interdisciplinarity, especially linking the natural sciences and the humanities, will be my focus for the upcoming year, as I study how it affects policy, governance, funding and mission in an institution of higher education."

During the placement, Fellows observe and work with a college or university president and other senior officers at a host institution, attend decision-making meetings and focus on issues of concern. Projects have included implementing a post tenure review process, developing a teaching/learning center, and recruiting and retaining faculty of color.  The Fellows also engage in leadership and management activities to enhance their knowledge about the challenges and opportunities confronting higher education.

The 2007-08 class will bring to 1,576 the number of higher education leaders who will have participated in the program since its inception. Of those who have participated in the first 42 years of the program, more than 300 Fellows have gone on to serve as chief executive officers of more than 350 colleges and universities. In addition, more than 1,300 have served as provosts, vice presidents or deans.

Sarker’s been at Macalester since 1995 and held the position of chair of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from 2001-2006.

Sarker specializes in 20th century British and postcolonial literature with an emphasis on women’s writing as well as literary and feminist theory.

She offers courses in feminist postmodern and postcolonial theories, 20th and 21st century transnational comparative women's writing, and sociopolitical activism. She is the recipient of awards from the Ford, Mellon, Bush, Hewlett, FaCE, and Wallace Foundations.  A Ford Foundation Emerging Leaders grant led to the "Sustainable Feminisms" conference at Macalester in 2003 at which academics, activists, social workers, and policy makers gathered to discuss the relationships between feminist theories and practices.   She is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford in England.  She is also the chair of International Relations at the Modernist Studies Association.

The F. Marian Bishop Charitable Trust Leadership Program is designed to prepare medical faculty, specifically family medicine physicians, for leadership positions at medical schools and academic health centers. The ACE/Lumina Fellows Program serves to increase the pool of highly qualified community college leaders.

Founded in 1918, the American Council on Education is a comprehensive association of the nation’s colleges and universities dedicated to higher education issues and advocacy on behalf of quality higher education programs.  Counted among the Council’s members are more than 1,800 accredited degree-granting colleges and universities and higher education related associations, organizations, and corporations.
Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,884 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.