Dear Colleague,

When I first became executive vice chancellor for academic affairs in 2014, I immediately recognized how important it would be to be part of a broader professional network of other CAOs. By definition, there’s only one of us at each of our campuses, and a lot of the work can be challenging and fraught with issues that demand confidentiality. When I learned about the Association of Chief Academic Officers I jumped at the opportunity to be part of this community, and I certainly hope that you also will find it a valuable source of professional support and information as well.

ACAO is still a young organization, but we are strengthened through a dynamic membership base, an incredibly hard-working Board of Directors, and an extremely talented and dedicated Advisory Council composed of retired provosts. Our Advisory Council has taken the lead on delivering “digital coffee hours” during the academic year that provide the opportunity to delve into conversation around academic and faculty affairs. We encourage you to join individually, or with members of your leadership team who may be interested in the topic areas. The Advisory Council also has developed an “Ask a Provost” site accessible from our website, for CAOs who wish to engage in confidential conferral with a retired provost on challenging issues. Finally, we partner every year with the American Council on Education (ACE) on developing sessions of particular interest to CAOs, and are in the process of exploring partnerships with other national higher education organizations.

For those of you interested in the potential role that digital courseware and adaptive learning technologies might play in deepening student learning and reducing equity gaps in general education, the ACAO website serves as an archive for a wealth of resources associated with a recently-completed project, the ACAO Digital Fellows Program. Dr. Laura Niesen de Abruna, Provost of York College of Pennsylvania served as Principal Investigator for the project, which received generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A number of our current members participated as Digital Fellows and would be excellent sources of advice and support to provosts seeking to undertake similar change initiatives.

I am eager to meet with you and solicit your feedback and input on additional ways that ACAO can provide support to you in your role. Please join or renew your membership, as our organization depends on membership dues as its principal revenue source and they enable us to offer programming, mentoring, and support for CAOs. We are a volunteer organization and we welcome your participation on committees or your ideas for additional programs. I look forward to meeting you at the ACAO business meeting and sessions for chief academic officers held at the 2020 ACE Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.  


Kathy E. Johnson, Ph.D.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer