American Council on Education

Washington, DC   |


ACE is a membership organization that mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice.

Ruling year info



Dr. Ted Mitchell

Main address

One Dupont Circle, NW

Washington, DC 20036 USA

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NTEE code info

Professional Societies & Associations (B03)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

Unknown (Z99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

ACE seeks to meet pressing needs of institutions as well as their students and leaders. Through institutional transformation efforts, evaluation of credit for prior learning, research, and professional learning programs, ACE works to strengthen student success and diversity among leaders. ACE also advances a strong federal public policy agenda by serving as a collective voice for the sector. Access to higher education has grown significantly over the past 50 years, but more progress is needed on postsecondary completion rates to meet the nation’s workforce needs. While institutions use various access and success strategies to support students, vast disparities persist, with fewer low-income students and students of color entering college and completing a degree than white students. Leadership in higher education also lags behind the growing diversity seen among students. In 2016, only 30 percent of college presidents were women and just 17 percent were racial and ethnic minorities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

ACE Fellows Program

Since 1965, nearly 2,000 vice presidents, deans, department chairs, faculty, and other emerging leaders have participated in the ACE Fellows Program, a customized learning experience that enables participants to immerse themselves in the study and practice of leadership and experience the culture, policies, and decision-making processes of another institution.

The ACE Fellows Program helps ensure that higher education’s future leaders are ready to take on real-world challenges and serve the capacity-building needs of their institutions.

The program condenses years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year. As a result, the ACE Fellows Program is the most effective, comprehensive leadership development program in American higher education today. Of the nearly 2,000 Fellows to date, more than 80 percent have gone on to serve as chief executive officers, chief academic officers, other cabinet-level positions, and deans.

Population(s) Served

ACE’s College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT®) reviews a wide variety of training programs from courses to examinations, including languages, certifications, and apprenticeship programs. ​With over 35,000 programs evaluated, CREDIT is the national leader in the evaluation of education and training obtained outside the classroom. Types of recommendations depend on the nature and purpose of the training educational program. College Credit Recommendations are given to programs that align with post-secondary educational expectations for equivalent college credit that include the number of semester-hours, educational level, and subject area. Workplace-Relevant Competencies are geared towards the development and achievement of skills and abilities important to an industry or student career aspirations.

Population(s) Served

Under a contract from the Department of Defense, ACE reviews military training (courses) and experiences (occupations) with the goal of awarding equivalent college credits for those experiences. The Military Guide has over 25,000 exhibits (22,000 courses and 3,400 occupations) dating back to 1954. The results of ACE military reviews appear in the Military Guide.

The purpose of an ACE military review is to bridge the gap between professional military education and postsecondary education. Reviews are conducted by faculty members from colleges and universities who are currently teaching in the areas they are reviewing. The review team analyzes materials, identifies learning outcomes, and recommends postsecondary credit based on its findings.

Population(s) Served
Military personnel

ACE Transformation Labs guide colleges and universities through a structured strategic planning process to advance critical institutional priorities. Building upon ACE's strategic focus areas, deep expertise, and extensive network of practitioners and scholars, Transformation Labs are designed to effect the organizational and cultural change needed for long-term success. Current Labs include:

The Internationalization Laboratory which provides customized guidance and insight to help colleges and universities achieve their internationalization goals.

The Learner Success Laboratory will guide institutions through a strategic planning process to maximize student persistence and completion and ensure that learners acquire the skills necessary for success in today's workforce.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

ACE mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice. As the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities, our strength lies in our diverse membership of more than 1,700 colleges and universities, related associations, and other organizations in America and abroad. ACE is the only major higher education association to represent all types of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions: two-year and four-year, public and private. Our members educate two out of every three students in all accredited, degree-granting U.S. institutions.

In 2018, ACE released a three-year strategic framework that posits three overarching commitments: 1) affirm and strengthen public trust in postsecondary education; 2) champion equity, access, and completion; and 3) enrich the capacity of institutions and leaders to innovate and adapt. To meet these commitments, ACE provides high-quality professional learning programs through a suite of blended in-person convenings and a digital learning platform, ACE Engage, aimed at transforming institutions and diversifying the pipeline to higher education leadership. Cutting-edge research and member insights on key higher education issues inform these offerings and help mobilize the community to enhance institutional practice. Research and insights focus on three critical components of higher education’s value proposition for the twenty-first century: equity-minded leadership, institutional transformation, and student success.

ACE works to ensure student success by quality assuring apprenticeships, military courses, corporate training and other forms of education obtained outside of the classroom for college credit to ease time to completion. The Council’s forthcoming Learner Success Lab will guide institutions through a strategic planning process to maximize student persistence and completion and ensure that learners acquire the skills necessary for success in today's workforce. Through this and other efforts, ACE is developing leaders’ ability to implement policies and practices to shape culture and support mechanisms to close equity gaps, counter negative campus and departmental climates, address ineffective pedagogies, and adapt to a new higher education/postsecondary credentialing ecosystem.

Importantly, ACE’s government relations and public policy team is consistently at the center of policy debates concerning higher education, including key issues such as federal student financial aid, research funding, immigration, and judicial challenges to the ability of institutions to consider race and ethnicity as part of a holistic admissions process. More recently, the government relations and public affairs team helped lead the higher education community’s COVID-19-related advocacy efforts before Congress and the executive branch. ACE is the most visible and widely quoted higher education association on these issues.

ACE’s work to improve student outcomes and close equity gaps, including gaps by race and income, is manifested through several key areas. The Council produces and commissions original research to inform institutional policies and practices on student success; advocates for key federal policies to improve student access and success, including policies related to financial aid and other supports; and undertakes practice-based work to strengthen student mobility through flexible completion pathways and institutional transformation.

The Council’s professional learning programs aim to transform professional learning across higher education and to equip current and emerging leaders with the tools and resources to successfully lead their institutions. ACE Engage®, a robust, peer-to-peer online professional learning platform, fosters community, builds knowledge, catalyzes learning, and enables action. The platform is complemented by transformation labs, regional summits, and forums that bring together small groups of senior higher education leaders to facilitate deep conversations and devise solutions for pressing issues on campuses.

ACE is also at the forefront of public policy and works with Congress on policies that maximize federal support for all students, with particular attention to low-income and historically underserved communities. Recent advocacy efforts have focused on increasing access to and funding for federal Pell Grants, TRIO programs for low-income and first-generation students, public service loan forgiveness, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work Study opportunities, to name a few. ACE has helped lead higher education advocacy efforts for Congress to pass bipartisan legislation protecting Dreamers, undocumented individuals brought to this country as children, and recently worked with other partners to launch a new website,, ahead of an expected Supreme Court decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

Former college president and top federal policymaker Ted Mitchell became president of ACE on September 1, 2017. Mitchell has a wide array of experience and accomplishments from across the higher education sector, as well as a long-standing focus on helping more students gain access to a postsecondary education and complete their degrees. His background includes service as president of Occidental College, a private liberal arts college; senior administrator at a state university; and trustee of a major research institution.

ACE’s work is also led by professional and administrative staff who are experts in many areas of higher education, come from diverse backgrounds, and have a wide range of experience. Their leadership is guiding ACE and American higher education in to the future. The Council’s core areas of expertise include public policy; diversity, equity and inclusion; student success; adult learners; credit for prior learning; and internationalization.

In recent years, ACE has successfully completed a number of major bodies of work to advance our strategic commitments, including the following efforts:
1) With funding from the Department of Education, ACE is leading an ambitious initiative to explore the use of blockchain in education. The Education Blockchain Initiative is designed to help identify and evaluate ways that blockchain technology can improve the flow of data among educational institutions and employers while empowering individuals to translate educational outcomes into economic opportunity. This effort will include a competitive challenge to fund pilot programs later this year.

2) ACE is designing a Learner Success Lab to help colleges and universities align learning and workforce opportunities to improve student success. A $1.5 million grant from Strada Education Network will allow the Council to research, develop, and pilot a Lab that will provide opportunities for postsecondary institutions to strategize and implement effective policies and practices that help students meet the demands of today’s workforce.

3) In February 2019, the Council released Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: A Status Report. This seminal report explores the evolving state of race and ethnicity in the higher education landscape and shows that while the number of students of color on our nation’s college and university campuses continues to rise, gaps in access, attainment, and debt levels remain. A second report will be released in 2020.

Importantly, the Council also responds to emergent issues impacting the sector, such as taking steps to mitigate the financial implications, student success obstacles, and other repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education. ACE conducted ongoing analyses of issues such as shifting classes online and the need for grants that fund food, housing, technology, and other supports for students. In response, ACE’s public policy team advocated for more than $50 billion in emergency relief for students and institutions, among other measures. In addition, ACE Engage, the Council’s online digital learning platform, is serving as a central repository and virtual exchange for best practices, tools, and resources for sector leaders.

Over the coming years, ACE will continue its role as the leading coordinating and convening body for higher education through public policy, research, and practice efforts.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    higher education institution senior leaders, mid-career individuals on college campuses, adult working learners

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, inform higher education sector of DEI regarding leadership or professional development needs, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    ACE developed a networking online platform, ACE Engage, which allows individuals on campus to connect, learn from their peers or other experts to address challenges affecting higher education. The development of this platform by early 2020 was very timely in helping higher education leaders easily learn how other colleges were addressing issues arising from the global pandemic.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Created regional professional development meetings instead of ones only held at the ACE headquarters or only one location. Created a networking/learning platform to allow individuals at our member institution to connect and learn. This platform was made available at the beginning of the pandemic which helped campus leaders easily learn how other institutions were responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,


American Council on Education

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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American Council on Education

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. Ron Crutcher

University of Richmond

Term: 2021 - 2022

Lawrence S. Bacow

Harvard University

Richard J. Pappas

Davenport University

James B. Milliken

The University of Texas System

Ronald A. Crutcher

University of Richmond

Chris Howard

Robert Morris University

Mark Mitsui

Portland Community College

Juan Sanchez Munoz

University of Houston-Downtown

Felix V. Matos Rodriguez

The City University of New York

Bill Pink

Grand Rapids Community College

Michael Rao

Virginia Commonwealth University

Rosyln Clark Artis

Benedict College

Brian Noland

East Tennessee State University

Sylvia Burwell

American University

James Clements

Clemson University

Damian Fernandez

Eckerd College

Gary May

University of California, Davis

Thuy Nguyen

Foothill College

Mark Reed

St. Joseph's University

Yves Salomon-Fernandez

Greenfield Community College

Leocadia Zak

Agnes Scott College

Peter Donohue

Villanova University

Daniel Phelan

Jackson College

Tom T. Stritikus

Fort Lewis College

Joan Gabel

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Roger Casey

McDaniel College

Scott D. Pulsipher

Western Governors

Karen Webb

Union Institute & University

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/14/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data