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NMSU associate dean named education fellow

Walter Zakahi, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at New Mexico State University, has been named an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow for the academic year 2008-2009.

Walter Zakahi, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at New Mexico State University, has been named an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

The ACE Fellows Program, established in 1965, is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing promising senior faculty and administrators for responsible positions in college and university administration. Thirty-six Fellows, nominated by the presidents or chancellors of their institutions, were selected this year in a national competition.

Sharon A. McDade, director of the ACE Fellows Program, noted that most previous Fellows have advanced into major positions in academic administration. Of the more than 1,500 participants in the first 43 years of the program, more than 300 have become chief executive officers and more than 1,100 have become provosts, vice presidents or deans.

"We're extremely pleased with the incoming class," McDade said. "The individuals selected have demonstrated strong leadership. The Fellows Program will sharpen and enhance their leadership skills and their network, and prepare them to address issues of concern to the higher education community."

Among his responsibilities as associate dean, Zakahi directs the First Year Scholars program and oversees the College of Arts and Sciences' advising, recruitment and retention efforts. He joined NMSU in 1991 as an associate professor of Communication Studies and was promoted to professor and appointed department head of Communication Studies in 1998.

Zakahi has published numerous articles on the topics of communication skills, social anxiety, and loneliness. He edited the journal Communication Reports, published by the Western States Communication Association, from 2004-2006. He has taught at all levels of the communication studies curriculum, from graduate seminars to the department's large lecture service courses. He received his bachelor's degree from Bradley University in 1978 and a doctorate from Bowling Green State University in 1982.

Each ACE Fellow will focus on an issue of concern to the nominating institution while spending the next academic year working with a college or university president and other senior officers at a host institution. The ACE Fellows Program combines seminars, interactive learning opportunities, campus visits and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single semester or year. The Fellows are included in the highest level of decision-making while participating in administrative activities and learning about an issue to benefit the nominating institution.

Fellows attend three week-long seminars on higher education issues organized by ACE, read extensively in the field and engage in other activities to enhance their knowledge about the challenges and opportunities confronting higher education today.

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and influence public policy through advocacy, research and program initiatives.