Press Release

Higher Education Reformers Named to Donor Advisory Board for the Fund for Academic Renewal

Mar 21, 2017 by Ted Eismeier

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, the Fund for Academic Renewal (FAR) announced the appointment of a distinguished group of education leaders from the frontlines of higher education, philanthropy, and stewardship as inaugural members of its Donor Advisory Board.

A program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), FAR helps higher education donors translate their philanthropic interests into enhanced opportunities to study crucial areas of the liberal arts that are too often under-supported. The Fund’s innovative approach is to work with donors to launch high-impact projects and to create carefully-designed gift agreements that ensure that major donors can give confidently—knowing that their donor intent will be honored. 

Members of this board will provide guidance and professional insight as FAR helps donors achieve their philanthropic goals, bringing to students the legacy of civilization’s greatest achievements.

The board members are:

Judge Richard S. Bray, president and CEO, Beazley Foundation, Portsmouth, Va., who translated his understanding of the need for academic renewal into dynamic and effective action. Under his leadership, the Beazley Foundation underwrote ACTA’s report The Diffusion of Light and Education: Meeting the Challenges of Higher Education in Virginia, which the Foundation used to create a strategic grant program that is helping Virginia colleges and universities dramatically strengthen their core curriculum requirements.

Robert C. Dickeson, Ph.D., Estes Park, Colo., president emeritus of the University of Northern Colorado, past president of the Association of Public College and University Presidents, and co-founder of the Lumina Foundation, now the nation’s largest private supporter of initiatives to increase college completion rates. Dr. Dickeson brings special expertise in identifying and implementing academic priorities and effectively overseeing higher education grant-making.

Michael C. Maibach, managing director, James Wilson Institute, Alexandria, Va. He was vice president of global government affairs at the Intel Corporation and president and CEO of the European-American Business Council. He is a seasoned professional in global business diplomacy and an advocate for the effective linking of educational outcomes to workforce needs. 

Elizabeth D. Capaldi Phillips, Ph.D., University Professor and Professor of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe, Ariz. She is also provost emerita of ASU and scholar-in-residence of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. During her tenure as ASU’s provost, she directed major university initiatives to reorganize campuses and departments, thereby lowering administrative costs while raising academic quality. Her experience in leading programmatic change will bring to FAR proven strategies for revitalizing traditional liberal arts curriculum on campus.

Renee F. Seblatnigg, Esq. of Cos Cob, Conn., led the fight when Tulane University sought to dissolve Newcomb College, her alma mater, as president of the Future of Newcomb College, Inc., a nonprofit group of alumnae and supporters. Since Tulane’s decision to absorb Newcomb against the wishes of donors, she has served as a resource for informing college donors and alumni organizations about the importance of donor intent.

“Donors earn their capital wealth through hard work, smarts, and personal ingenuity. My colleagues on the Donor Advisory Board and I have been in the trenches of ensuring that colleges and universities carry out the wishes of the generous donors who are willing to support them. We are excited to help launch this valuable resource for alumni, pooling our experiences and insights to benefit even more contributors to America’s higher education system,” said Judge Bray.

“We are honored to have such a distinguished group of academic and philanthropic leaders serve on the Donor Advisory Board. These leaders care deeply about reinvigorating the liberal arts and maintaining high academic standards on campuses. Our FAR advisory board members recognize the importance of intentional giving to achieve those goals,” said Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill, Ph.D., executive director of FAR.


CONTACT: Ted Eismeier,

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.