Ngassa named ACE Fellow for next academic year

Felix Ngassa, professor of chemistry and chair of University Academic Senate, has been named an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Ngassa is the first faculty member from Grand Valley to be named a fellow since 2015. In that role, Ngassa will be placed at a host institution to observe and work with a president and other senior leaders. Fellows also conduct projects of pressing concern for their home institutions.

Ngassa's interest in continuing Grand Valley's commitment to educational equity prompted his fellowship application.

"In order that all members of our campus community can thrive, I am interested in leadership initiatives at GVSU that are geared toward pursuing equitable practices that acknowledge and address current, as well as historical, structural inequalities that advantage some and disadvantage others," he said.

Felix Ngassa in academic regalia stands at a podium during a commencement ceremony.
Felix Ngassa addresses the audience during a 2022 Commencement ceremony in his role as chair of University Academic Senate. The chemistry professor was named an ACE Fellow.
Image credit - Valerie Hendrickson

The fellowship will allow Ngassa to study different leaders, understand higher education more holistically and better understand his own leadership style. Ngassa said he is interested to learn how other leaders approached diversity, equity and inclusion issues on their campuses.

"This experience will provide me with new opportunities, perspectives and strategies to both operationalize and sustain our commitment to a culture of educational equity through collaborative leadership that embraces the shared equity leadership model," he said.

Ngassa joined Grand Valley's faculty in 2004. He has served as chair of the University Academic Senate and the Executive Committee of the Senate since 2017. 

Fatma Mili, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, called Ngassa a "selfless, coolheaded and committed leader."

"One of Dr. Ngassa's leadership skills is his unshakable focus on the institution and the higher mission that we all signed up for," Mili said. "The ACE fellowship will further enrich his experience and perspective and benefit his students, his colleagues and the institution. I am very happy for Felix and look forward to seeing his continued growth with this fellowship."

Ngassa will learn about his placement and mentor in early April during an ACE Fellows meeting in Washington, D.C. 

Last year, Mary "MJ" McConner shadowed President Philomena V. Mantella during an ACE Fellowship. McConner, a 2008 GVSU graduate, was the vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Christian Brothers University.

Since its inception in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program has strengthened institutions in American higher education by identifying and preparing over 2,500 faculty, staff and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership through its distinctive and intensive cohort-based mentorship model.


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