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ACI News

ACI Fall Conference draws more than 140 people, liberal arts education highlighted
Nov. 9, 2017

Dr. Bridget Coughlin, Shedd Aqaurium CEO and president, discussed her Knox College undergraduate education.

More than 140 people attended the ACI Fall Conference Nov. 3, a professional development opportunity for staff of ACI’s 24 member colleges and universities. Keynote speaker was Dr. Bridget C. Coughlin, president and chief executive officer of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, a marine conversation and research organization, and popular tourist destination for its exhibits of marine life. Coughlin, a biochemist, is a graduate of Knox College, Galesburg, one of ACI’s member colleges.

Coughlin explained that she chose Knox because it offered her a theatre scholarship, but she said she wasn’t very good at theatre and learned it was not the major for her. At Knox, she discovered her real interest was in science and working in laboratories. Coughlin said Knox College allowed her to “tinker” and guided her to put together an independent major at the time, which was biochemistry, she said.

Thirty-two speakers addressed college and university staff.

“Knox College allowed me to discover who I was,” Coughlin said. “I learned how to speak and write and think at Knox. Failing comfortably – and it didn’t feel comfortable at the time – but failing, and being challenged and maturing was really my ‘secret sauce’ in the value of my liberal arts education.” Another important life lesson that has helped Coughlin in her current role was learning how “pivot” toward something else after failing at being a theatre major, she added.

The ACI conference featured four professional development tracks for college and university staff working in advancement, finance, public relations and marketing, and student engagement, said Constance Willoughby, ACI director for scholarships and conferences. Thirty-two speakers addressed attendees in breakout sessions. Conference sponsor was BKD, LLP, an accounting and advisory firm based in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.

This year’s event was at the corporate office of Morningstar, an investment research firm in downtown Chicago. Morningstar also is a member of the ACI Board of Trustees, represented by Leslie A. Peltason, a corporate trustee.

Liberal arts grads: ‘master learners,’ workplace leaders and ready for change

HR, diversity and inclusion leaders learn about future workforce and liberal arts students

Nov. 9, 2017

Speakers at the ACI breakfast were, from left, Doug Harris, Robyn Clark and President David J. Livingston.

An ACI event designed to highlight liberal arts education and workforce development in Illinois drew more than 60 corporate and higher education leaders in human resources and career services, as well as diversity and inclusion officers.

Speakers at the Nov. 2 event discussed how to recruit and retain a diverse range of talent from ACI’s 24 member colleges and universities, said Mick Weltman, ACI executive director. The event was also designed to generate interest in the first ACI Career Fair, set for March 23, 2018 at North Central College, Naperville, an ACI-member school.

President David J. Livingston of Lewis University, Romeoville, is a graduate of Augustana College, Rock Island. Both schools are ACI members. He told the audience his liberal arts education helped him adapt to a variety of educational experiences in chemistry and theology, plus different employment experiences leading to his current role.

“We believe that what people need to do is become ‘master learners,'” he said, “That for me is the key to what ACI institutions do. Master learners are people who can adjust to the economy of the future. Master learners learn how to learn. They can deal with anything your companies will deal with in the future — because they’re flexible.” Livingston added that liberal arts institutions prepare people for their first jobs and beyond, and prepare them to make career changes.

Robyn Clark, managing partner and founder, SuccessWise, Chicago, showed attendees a list of liberal arts graduates serving as corporate and organizational CEOs. “Liberal arts students can be successful and achieve, and liberal arts students can make money,” she said.

Liberal arts graduates bring leadership to the workplace, will learn, can deal with ambiguity and relate to people, she said. “That is the beginning of great leadership, Clark said.

Doug Harris, CEO of The Kaleidoscope Group, Chicago, cited his experience at Tufts University, a liberal arts institution in Massachusetts. He highlighted liberal arts graduates’ ability to embrace change, be open to new ideas and grow as employees and people. They’re also prepared for the future and the unknown, he said.

“Change leads to growth, and it leads to opportunity. Liberal arts students love change,” Harris added. “We’re flexible around what we do and how we do it.”

Higher Education Headlines

Benefits of Liberal Arts Education

Archived stories


Nov. 1: Morningstar CEO Headlines ACI Wealth Advisors Breakfast Dec. 6 in Chicago
Nov. 1: Council of Independent Colleges awards $32,000 conditional grant to ACI Peer Mentoring Program
Sept. 29: Join Us Nov. 3 for ACI’s Professional Development Conference
Sept. 29: ACI Hosting Breakfast on Workforce Development and the Liberal Arts Nov. 2
Sept. 11: Quincy University Trustees Appoint Phil Conover University’s 23rd President
Sept. 7: ACI Welcomes Three New Corporate Board Members
August 31: ACI Distributes $66,000 in Scholarship Funds to Members
June 30: ACI Expands Peer Mentoring Program to Nine Colleges
June 30: ACI Awarded Career Fair Matching Grant by Council of Independent Colleges
May 31: ACI welcomes Wheaton College, elects new leaders, OKs new mission statement
May 2: ACI 65th Anniversary Reception Focuses on Scholars, Independent Higher Education
May 2: ACI Benefit Reception Testimonials Emphasize Opportunity for Underserved Students
March 28: ACI, Call One Announce New Scholarship for Science, Technology or Business Majors
March 17: ACI Spring Professional Development Conferences Set
Feb. 17: A Liberal Arts Education Prepares Students Well, Benefits Society, Says College President
Feb. 7: ACI Welcomes Bradley Mease of Baker Tilly as Corporate Trustee
Feb. 1: ACI to Host 65th Anniversary Benefit Reception April 21 in Chicago
Jan. 20: Illinois College Presidents Connect Liberal Arts Education and Student Success
Jan. 16: ACI Welcomes Leslie Sawyer as Corporate Trustee


Dec. 14: ACI Publishes 2015-2016 Annual Report
Dec. 14: ACI Welcomes Two New Board of Trustees Members
Nov. 2: ACI Welcomes Six New Board of Trustees Members
Oct. 7: Consider Creating an ACI Named Scholarship
Sept. 9: ACI 2016 Fall Conferences Set
Sept. 9: Olivet Nazarene Named Proud Partner of the Chicago Bears
Aug. 31: Monmouth College Makes Major Jump in ‘Washington Monthly College Guide’
Aug. 29: North Central College is National Partner in the Billion Dollar Green Challenge
Aug. 24: ACI Welcomes Three New Board of Trustees Members
Aug. 24: ACI to Distribute UPS Scholarship Funds to Illinois Students

Archived stories, cont’d
Aug. 10: Remembering Deborah M. Sawyer
Aug.9: Millikin University Department of Theatre and Dance becomes School of Theatre and Dance
Aug. 8: ACI and North Central College announce transition of Center for Success in High-Need Schools
Aug. 5: Lewis University College Success Program Receives $45,000 AT&T Contribution
Aug. 5: From ACI-member North Central College: Democracy through the eyes of students
July 6: Peer Mentoring Program expands to seven campuses for 2016-17
July 1: ACI welcomes four new college and university presidents
May 27: North Central College agrees to acquire Shimer College
May 9: Laura Ortega-Lamela Appointed to ACI Board of Trustees
May 6: ACI Scholar Katherine King, Concordia University Chicago
April 27: ACI Scholar Paris Edwards, Augustana College
April 14: Welcome new board members!
April 6: ACI Welcomes Sikich LLP as a New Corporate Partner
April 6: Northwest Comprehensive Continues its ACI Corporate Partnership
March 16: ACI April 29 Reception to Recognize Scholarship Recipients, Peer Mentoring, Retiring Presidents
Feb. 25: ACI offers Conservation Careers internships for this summer
Feb. 23: Rockford University appoints Dr. Eric Fulcomer as president
Feb. 18: Elmhurst College names Dr. Troy VanAken president
Feb. 12: Greenville College tops list of state’s best online colleges and universities; 6 other ACI schools also ranked
Feb.9: Dr. David Livingston named 10th president of Lewis University
Feb. 4: Three ACI member schools cited for lowering tuition costs
Jan.7: ACI’s 2016 spring conferences set


Dec.15: Consider ACI for year-end, tax-deductible giving
Nov. 18: ACI’s Project LEAD Summit explores teacher diversity and support
Nov. 6: ACI awarded challenge grant for peer mentoring at member colleges


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