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Oakwood President Appointed as Member of the Executive Committee of the American Council on Education Inaugural Commission on Faith-based Universities

Close-up of black man in a suit speaking to an unseen crowd

Leslie Pollard, Oakwood University president, to Join American Council on Education. Pictured here at the NAD's 2023 Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Conference. Photo: Ron Pollard,

On May 16, 2024, Oakwood University president Leslie Pollard was officially invited by Clark Gilbert, commissioner of the Church Educational System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and co-chair of the American Council on Education’s (ACE) inaugural Commission on Faith-based Universities, to join the inaugural executive committee for this newly formed advocacy organization.

Pollard joins a distinguished group of university presidents in assisting ACE and the U.S. Department of Education in understanding and advancing institutions with a faith-based mission. Inaugural members of the executive committee include Robin Baker, president, George Fox University; Ari Berman, president and rosh yeshiva, Yeshiva University; Rochelle L. Ford, president, Dillard University; Jim Gash, president and chief executive officer, Pepperdine University; John I. Jenkins, president, University of Notre Dame; Peter K. Kilpatrick, president, The Catholic University of America; D. Michael Lindsay, president, Taylor University; Candice McQueen, president, Lipscomb University; C. Shane Reese, president, Brigham Young University; Philip G. Ryken, president, Wheaton College; Beck A. Taylor, president and professor of economics, Samford University; and Dwaun J. Warmack, president, Claflin University.

This service appointment comes as Pollard winds down his 2022-2024 term as chair of the Board of Presidents of the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (AAICU), led by Paul Hankins, president. This group, based in Montgomery, Alabama, works to partner with the Alabama Legislature on behalf of the 25 independent colleges and universities in the state of Alabama.

Pollard commented, “With the rapid upheaval in the higher education industry post-COVID-19, it is crucial for Adventist higher education in general, and Oakwood University in particular, to have a strong and impactful voice in influencing national policy on post-secondary education for institutions of faith. As higher education’s only Seventh-day Adventist historically black institution (HBCU), Oakwood brings a unique perspective to this important conversation — much of which depends on continued access to federal funding for institutions of faith. We seek your prayers for the work of this national commission.”

The first meeting of the Commission on Faith-based Universities just took place on the morning of June 4, with an afternoon press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Oakwood University, located in Huntsville, Alabama, is a historically black Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher learning that provides quality education with an emphasis on undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate student development, service, and lifelong learning. Learn more about Oakwood University at