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SPA Partners Attend 2019 ACE Conference; Shelly Storbeck Speaks on Women’s Leadership Initiatives

On March 9-12, 2019, higher education leaders gathered in Philadelphia for ACE2019, the 101st annual meeting of the American Council on Education, where they were joined by Storbeck/Pimentel partners Shelly Weiss Storbeck, Tom Fitch, Jim Sirianni, Julie Tea, and Ruth Shoemaker Wood at many sessions and events, including the Executive Roundtable, the ACE Women’s Leadership dinner, and other opportunities for lively discussion of the issues facing the nation’s colleges and universities today.

This year, Managing Partner Shelly Storbeck was invited to speak at the ACE Women’s Leadership Dinner in support of the Women's Leadership Legacy Fund, of which Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates is a proud sponsor.

Shelly introduced her remarks by noting, “Women continue to trail men in leadership roles in higher education, and we are determined to make a difference in this area.”

“[Alberto Pimentel and I] started with the belief that a commitment to diversity mattered across the leadership pipeline, and we believe that this commitment is even more critical today in this particular climate in our nation and on our nation’s campuses. Increasingly over the past 12 years, our college and university clients have ardently shared this belief, and on their behalf, we have worked proactively and energetically to recruit excellent, diverse pools of candidates in every search with which we have assisted.”  

Shelly added, “While search committees and institutions have the final say as to who advances in searches, of course, we see our role as setting the procedures and tone for a fair, rigorous, and inclusive process.”

Shelly described the Storbeck/Pimentel process and shared anecdotes and data about the importance of female representation on boards and committees.

“I am happy to report that searches led by our firm have contributed to the recent uptick in the proportion of women among our nation’s college and university presidents and chancellors," she said.

"Our rate of placing women in these roles over the past decade has hovered between 45 and 55 percent each year, and in recent years has stayed on the higher side: with placements such as Becky Blank at Wisconsin, Rebecca Chopp at Denver, Wendy Raymond at Haverford, and Valerie Smith at Swarthmore, and many ‘first’ female presidents at institutions such as Allegheny College, Colgate University, Elon University, Franklin & Marshall College, Grand Valley State University in Michigan, Indiana State University, John Jay College in New York City, Marymount University in D.C., the University of California at Santa Cruz, and the University of Wyoming.”

On Sunday, Partner Jim Sirianni participated in a session on the topic of “How Today’s Leaders Are Building the Campuses of Tomorrow," where panelists “evaluated what it takes to drive change and to meet the evolving needs of their constituents” amid emerging technological, financial, and environmental pressures.

Panelists included Nelson C. Baker, Dean of Professional Education at Georgia Tech; Soraya M. Coley, President of Cal Poly Pomona; Judy Genshaft, President of the University of South Florida System; Louis Soares, Chief Learning and Innovation Officer at ACE; and Peter Stokes, Managing Director, Education and Life Sciences Strategy and Operations Group, Huron.

“It was an illuminating and wide-ranging conversation,” Jim said. “Everyone at the session shared tactics and spoke candidly about approaches they’ve taken when trying to engage their colleagues at their institution.”

Storbeck/Pimentel partners attend the ACE annual meeting each year as active members, participants, speakers, and audience members. It is a vital way for the firm to stay connected to today’s leaders and rising stars in higher education and to maintain our firsthand, cutting-edge knowledge of trends and challenges in the higher education landscape.