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Corby Hovis Named American Council on Education Fellow for 2009-2010

April 8, 2009

Robert Corby Hovis, a program director in the Education and Human Resources directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF), has been selected to participate in the American Council on Education (ACE) Fellows program for the upcoming academic year. Hovis, who is the NSF-wide coordinator for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, will take part full-time in the ACE Fellows program starting in the fall, after participating in seminars and other preparatory activities during the spring and summer.

Established in 1965, the ACE Fellows program is designed to strengthen leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing promising senior faculty and administrators for responsible leadership positions in colleges, universities, and other organizations that serve higher education. Of the more than 1,500 participants in the first 44 years of the program, more than 300 have become chief executive officers and more than 1,100 have become provosts, vice presidents, or deans.


This year, 38 fellows, nominated in most cases by the presidents or chancellors of their institutions, were selected in a national competition. Hovis was nominated by Cora Marrett, NSF's acting deputy director.


Because ACE Fellows are generally drawn from within the ranks of senior faculty on university campuses, it was unusual to have one selected from a government agency. Hovis, who has worked at NSF since 1997, looks forward to gaining a closer view of current academic and administrative operations in a university, and he believes he will bring a useful outside perspective to the institution.


"I'm interested in looking at how senior leaders address strategic planning, resource allocation, development, policy, and other issues in a complex university environment," said Hovis. "I will bring to the campus my recent experience in a different complex organization, of course, and I will bring a broad understanding of what's taking place on a national scale in science education and the integration of research into curricula."


Hovis and the other fellows will each focus on an issue of concern to their nominating institution while spending a year working with a college or university president and other senior officers at a host institution. The ACE Fellows program combines seminars, interactive learning opportunities, campus visits, and placement at a higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year. The fellows are included in the highest levels of decision making while participating in administrative activities and learning about an issue to benefit the nominating institution.


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.


Before their placements begin, fellows design a specific research project in consultation with their nominator and senior administrators at the host institution. Hovis's specific research focus has not been identified yet, but he intends to analyze one or more topics of strategic importance to NSF. Possible issues include the integration of research and education on a campus, approaches to interdisciplinary research and education, and promoting innovation in science and engineering.


"I want to negotiate a topic that will directly serve NSF's interests when I return to NSF after the fellowship year," Hovis said. "By gaining a first-hand, current perspective on the important issues and practices in the institutions that we serve, I hope I can contribute to the design of more effective programs and processes at NSF."




The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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