Andrea Milner, vice president and dean of academic affairs at Adrian College, who was selected for the prestigious American Council on Education (ACE) Fellows Program, will be hosted by Buffalo State for the fall 2022 semester.
Milner will work closely with Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner and members of her cabinet to explore the unique ways a public comprehensive campus addresses issues of recruitment, retention, and student support in today’s higher education environment.
“This is giving me the opportunity to see the decision-making process in a statewide system,” Milner said. “I’m profoundly honored and grateful to be here.”
Adrian is a liberal arts college of roughly 1,800 located in a rural part of Michigan, about 45 miles from Ann Arbor. Milner joined the Teacher Education Department in 2009, served as dean of graduate studies in 2016–2017, and assumed her current role in spring 2017.
After beginning her career as a sixth-grade teacher, Milner said, she chose to work in higher education because she saw a gap in science education in some school systems.
“I wanted to be in a position to help improve it,” she said.
“The biggest challenges are affordability, return on investment, and diversity and inclusion, which are all related. This requires us to be more creative and collaborative in our approach.”
Her ongoing love of learning inspired Milner to pursue an ACE fellowship.
“I wanted to experience a public university in an urban environment,” she said, “and Buffalo State is the perfect fit.”
Established in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing faculty and staff members for senior positions in college and university administration.
Nearly 2,000 higher education leaders have participated in the program over the past five decades, with more than 80 percent of fellows having served as senior leaders of colleges and universities. This includes Conway-Turner, who was an ACE fellow in 1996–1997, and Jevon Hunter, interim associate dean and Woods-Beals Endowed Chair in the School of Education, who recently served as an ACE fellow at SUNY Fredonia.
This year, ACE selected 46 fellows nominated by the senior administration for their institutions following a rigorous application process.
“We are extremely excited to host Dr. Milner on our campus,” Conway-Turner said. “We expect to learn more about her successes at Adrian and brainstorm ways that we can apply some of those strategies to Buffalo State.”
Milner noted that it’s more important than ever for college leaders to find ways to stay relevant in a global economy and a challenging time for higher education.
“The biggest challenges are affordability, return on investment, and diversity and inclusion, which are all related,” Milner said. “I think this requires us to be more creative and collaborative in our approach.”
Adrian College, which was recognized as the No. 1 “Most Innovative School” in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report in 2022, has embraced progressive approaches to higher education. Over the last couple of years, the college has added 30 new academic programs by joining the Lower Cost Models for Independent Colleges Consortium (LCMC), in which several colleges share academic courses. For instance, Adrian was able to offer a degree in supply chain management that it couldn’t in the past.
“We had everything for that major except the expertise for three classes,” Milner said. “Because we’re participating in LCMC, students can take those classes remotely at another institution while remaining at Adrian for a degree.”
In addition, the college recently added athletic teams and support services for students. And the colleges has enjoyed its largest enrollments over the last few years.
“Course sharing was the way forward for Adrian,” Milner said. “We learned how to recruit and retain students by offering them more.”
She also pointed to relationship building as a key strategy for relevancy and growth.
“I’ve been impressed with Buffalo State’s relationship building and community outreach model,” Milner said. “I’m so grateful to be here. I’m looking forward to learning all I can and working with the community at large.”
Photo by Jesse Steffan-Colucci, college photographer.