Rutgers Chapter History

The Rutgers chapter of ACE-NET was started in the 1977-78 academic year, almost immediately after the NJ state chapter was created.

State Chapter History

The NJ state chapter of ACE-NET was founded in 1977. NJ was the thirteenth state to join the American Council on Education Network.

History of the ACE-NET

With a grant from the Carnegie Corporation in 1977, the Office of Women in Higher Education (OWHE) started the ACE National Identification Program, which, 25 years later, is the ACE Network. Its purpose, broadly stated, was to address the needs of women and issues relating to women's leadership in higher education—needs and issues identified during the early years of the Office through its meetings with women faculty and administrators throughout the U.S. It is a mission that is still relevant today, and one that is supported by networks across the nation. 

In 1977, California, New York, and Florida became the first states to create an ACE National Identification Program. Within a year, they were joined by Wisconsin, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. New Jersey followed shortly thereafter. Within the next five years, the ACE Network became a state-based, national program. 

The initial grant proposed creating state planning committees in each state with representation reflecting the state's higher education structure. A woman holding a senior-level administrative position would lead the planning committee as the state coordinator. Working with a panel of advisors of men and women leaders within the state, the planning committee and state coordinator would create effective strategies to identify and advance women into senior leadership positions within the state's colleges and universities. Over time, the state networks have developed organizational structures and initiatives that best fit the structure of higher education within the state. Nonetheless, the idea of a planning board, a state coordinator, institutional representatives, and support of college presidents remain hallmarks of the ACE Network. The state networks are linked to one another through their connection with OWHE and a national executive board, established in 1991 to serve as both mentors to the state coordinators and advisors to support OWHE staff. For a quarter of a century, the state networks have retained a shared vision, common purpose, and mutual commitment to advancing women's leadership in higher education. 

During the past 25 years, the individual state networks have developed a variety of effective programs and initiatives, responsive to the needs of women in their states. Conferences that are statewide or regionally based within the states are annual events in many states, providing professional development and networking opportunities for women at all levels in higher education administration. Some state networks have created their own versions of the OWHE national forums for mid-to senior-level women leaders, providing an opportunity to identify and develop emerging women leaders. Many states present awards to women leaders, enhancing public awareness of the contributions made by outstanding leaders. Several states have sponsored women student leader conferences, and others include women students in meetings and award programs. Receptions for women legislators, women college presidents, and women board members are other ways that the state networks have sought to advance women's leadership. Similarly, some states have targeted specific audiences—deans, department chairs, and vice-presidents—with workshops and seminars. Many states have followed OWHE's example by partnering with other women's organizations to work collaboratively to meet shared goals. 

In 1995, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the ACE Network, Donna Shavlik and Judy Touchton wrote, "It is a rare privilege to be able to look back over two decades and to say, truthfully and with pride, 'This is an idea that has worked.'" Their words ring true today, as state networks continue to support women in college and university administration.