News Release from AASCU


Contact: Jennifer Walpole (202) 478-4665


New AASCU-Penson Center for Professional Development Will Serve Association Members, Other Public and Private Institutions

Washington, D.C.—The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) today announced a major expansion of its member services with the establishment of the AASCU-Penson Center for Professional Development (APC), to assist institutional leaders in responding to the broad range of strategic and organizational challenges facing administrators of American higher education.

“Establishing the AASCU-Penson Center enhances our ability to fulfill one of AASCU’s primary purposes—to create professional development opportunities for our members and to support innovative, inspired and resourceful leadership at our institutions,” said AASCU President Muriel Howard.  

AASCU is long known for an emphasis on professional development through programs that include the New Presidents Academy, Millennium Leadership Initiative, the Experienced Presidents Academy, as well as academies for provosts and other senior campus leaders.  AASCU announced that the center will contract with members and other higher education institutions to assist them with strategic planning, leadership assessment and development, organizational and board development, academic planning and development, succession planning, as well as leadership and operational programs and processes.

Tomás Morales, chair of the 2014 AASCU board of directors and president of California State University, San Bernardino, said, “The
services offered through the AASCU-Penson Center are an excellent complement to the professional development programs that AASCU currently provides. This is a significant step in AASCU’s goal to become a full-service association.”

The AASCU-Penson Center for Professional Development was formed through the reorganization of Penson Associates, Inc., which was established by Edward M. Penson nearly 50 years ago to offer consulting services to institutions. Penson is president emeritus of Salem State University in Massachusetts and chancellor emeritus of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The company now becomes a limited liability corporation (LLC) owned by AASCU, with a separate governing board reporting directly to the AASCU board of directors. Jerry B. Farley, president of Washburn University in Kansas, will chair the APC governing board.  

“At the core of our service is providing leadership and professional development opportunities for all of higher education,” said Farley. “The center will contract with both public and private institutions while offering special insights into the challenges facing public higher education.”

Sal Rinella, former president of Austin Peay State University (Tenn.), will manage the day-to-day affairs of the center as executive director. The center will operate on a fee-for-service basis, and its roster of consultants features 20 former presidents and chancellors of public colleges and universities.

Creation of the center assures the continuation of the consulting services long provided by Penson Associates, at the same time that it allows AASCU to advance its goal of being a full-service association that helps institutions enhance their leadership capacity and strengthen the functioning of several dimensions of their campus administrations.

Besides the services noted above, APC consultants will also advise campus leaders on external relations and fundraising, mediation and dispute resolution, accreditation planning and follow-up, and university-community partnerships.


AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.