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NAC&U wraps up three-day Summer Institute at North Central

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The New American Colleges and Universities wrapped up its 2011 Summer Institute at North Central College Friday with a look ahead to the 2012 Summer Institute at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Participants on Thursday evening were treated to a guided tour of Chicago by Blair Kamin, Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune architecture critic and adjunct professor of art at North Central. On Friday morning, the Summer Institute’s inspiring final keynote address was delivered by W. Gardner Campbell, director of professional development and innovative initiatives at Virginia Tech.

Campbell urged the audience of faculty and other academic leaders assembled in Meiley-Swallow Hall to consider ways Internet-based technology can be used to engage students in classrooms.

“Expanding the range and depth for the capacity for interest is what fuels lifelong learning,” he said.

North Central, a founding member of the 20-member NAC&U, hosted the three-day, 15th annual Summer Institute.

“People have been energized by the opportunity to network with peers from other colleges and universities and engage in dialogue in virtually every arena,” said Fran Navakas, Svend and Elizabeth Bramsen Professor in the Humanities, professor of English, director of integrative programs and associate academic dean at North Central College. “People will be going back to their home campuses and looking for ways to apply the best practices that have been discussed here.”

The last few days have been rich in conversations about best practices, past successes, and challenges and goals for the future, both for individual institutions and the consortium. These discussions have taken place formally—through sessions and affinity group meetings—and informally, on the walk to North Central's Wentz Concert Hall or over creme brûlée during the Chicago Excursion.

This is the final Summer Institute for NAC&U Executive Director Lynette Robinson, who is stepping down this summer after five years at the helm of the consortium.

“The Summer Institute has a profound impact on people who have not experienced one before,” Robinson said. “You have this eclectic group of people here who are talking about their shared mission.”