Dean Kara Rabbitt Named American Council on Education Fellow for Academic Year 2019-20

Kara Rabbitt

Kara Rabbitt, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at William Paterson University, has been named an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow for academic year 2019-20. She is one of 39 Fellows selected from across the country following nomination by the senior administration of their institutions and a rigorous application process.

“Dr. Rabbitt will join a class of Fellows from various colleges and universities around the nation,” says Richard J. Helldobler, president of William Paterson University. “She will learn with and from them, as well as from a number of higher education leaders, several of whom will serve as her mentors. I wish Dr. Rabbitt great success in her Fellowship year.”

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 for senior positions in college and university administration through its distinctive and intensive nominator-driven, cohort-based mentorship model. More than 2,000 higher education leaders have participated in the ACE Fellows Program over the past five decades, with more than 80 percent of Fellows having gone on to serve as senior leaders of colleges and universities.

“The ACE Fellows Program epitomizes ACE’s goal of enriching the capacity of leaders to innovate and adapt, and it fuels the expansion of a talented and diverse higher education leadership pipeline,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “Each year I am impressed by how many former Fellows are named to prominent leadership roles, which makes it even more exciting to meet each new cohort. I’m left wondering, ‘Where will these Fellows end up?’”

Rabbitt has served as dean of the College of the Humanities and Social Sciences since 2011. She previously served as interim dean of the College from 2009 to 2011, and as associate dean from 2006 to 2009. During her tenure as dean, Rabbitt has led the College through a strategic planning process resulting in the establishment of the University’s second doctoral program, the doctor of psychology degree, as well as the master of fine arts in creative and professional writing, along with several undergraduate degree programs. She has also secured and supervised numerous contracts and grants, including a recent $190,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education for “Expanding Vistas: Global Contexts, Local Lives,” which will enhance the University’s language instruction in Arabic and Korean and support the development of a new Korean studies minor.

A professor of languages and cultures, Rabbitt joined William Paterson in 1997. She founded, directed, and taught all levels of the French and Francophone Studies program. A specialist in Francophone Carribean literature and 19th century French poetry, she has taught courses in the University’s graduate program in bilingual and ESL education, interdisciplinary humanities honors program, the English department, and Africana world studies program. She is the author of numerous published articles, book chapters, and webpages, and has presented at national and international conferences.  A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, she holds a doctorate in Romance studies from Cornell University, and has taught at the Université de Paris at Nanterre.

The program combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, visits to campuses, and other higher education-related organizations, and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year. 

During the placement, Fellows observe and work with the president and other senior officers at their host institution, attend decision-making meetings, and focus on issues of interest. Fellows also conduct projects of pressing concern for their home institution and seek to implement their findings upon completion of the fellowship placement.

At the conclusion of the fellowship year, Fellows return to their home institution with new knowledge and skills that contribute to capacity-building efforts, along with a network of peers across the country and abroad.

For more information, please click here.

About ACE
ACE is a membership organization that mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice. As the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, ACE represents more than 1,700 college and university presidents and related associations. For more information, please visit or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.