Press Release

Fund for Academic Renewal Adds Talent to Its Growing Operation

Jun 21, 2017 by Christine Ravold

Former Coolidge Foundation staffer Rushad Thomas will help expand network of donors and faculty supporting liberal arts excellence

WASHINGTON, DC—The Fund for Academic Renewal (FAR), a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, announced today the hiring of Mr. Rushad Thomas as its new program manager. Mr. Thomas will support FAR’s expansion through research, outreach to donors and faculty, and the development of special programming and events designed to support academic excellence and intellectual openness in American higher education.

Thomas previously served as a program and editorial associate at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation in Plymouth, Vermont. There, he was responsible for developing creative educational programming locally and nationally on the values and legacy of President Calvin Coolidge. He also helped to manage social media efforts, represented the organization at conferences and events, and authored articles for the Foundation’s periodicals and blog.

“We are delighted to welcome Rushad to our team,” said Dr. Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill, executive director of FAR. “We now have an even greater capacity to support donors and college alumni seeking to make powerful contributions to outstanding collegiate liberal arts programs.”

A native of Florida, Mr. Thomas graduated magna cum laude from Florida A&M University, which he attended as a Gates Millennial Scholar. He also received an M.A. in government from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he served as a graduate assistant to the dean of Regent’s School of Government, Eric Patterson.

“I am excited to join ACTA in promoting academic excellence at America’s colleges and universities. I look forward to expanding our efforts to ensure that more young people experience the richness of our nation’s intellectual traditions,” Thomas said.

Mr. Thomas will work closely with Dr. Merrill, whom ACTA previously named executive director of the Fund in December 2016; Ted Eismeier, ACTA’s director of communications, who advises FAR on media and external relations and partnerships with other higher education organizations; and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, whose Tax-Exempt Organizations practice group serves as legal adviser to the Fund, with Andras Kosaras representing FAR as lead attorney.

In June, FAR hosted its first faculty “Oases of Excellence” conference (invitation-only), which brought together directors of centers across the country committed to excellence in the liberal arts and the robust exchange of ideas.


The Fund for Academic Renewal, a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, is a go-to resource for higher education donors who want to make a difference. It is dedicated to helping conscientious donors make thoughtful gifts that have an enduring impact on higher education. 

CONTACT: Christine Ravold,

The Fund for Academic Renewal is a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions to FAR are fully tax-deductible to the maximum extent provided by law.