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Marrying Access + Excellence in Higher Ed – with Dr. Eileen Strempel

How can we be elite without being elitist? Dr. Eileen Strempel contends that for an institution of higher learning to be truly great in the 21st century, it must adapt to the changing nature of the student body and support what she calls the neotraditional student, marrying the ideas of access and excellence.

Eileen is the inaugural dean of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Prior to UCLA, she spent three years as Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Cincinnati and 16 years in various roles at Syracuse University. Eileen is also a former ACE fellow-in-residence and the coeditor of Transition and Transformation: Fostering Transfer Student Success and Transition and Transformation: New Research Fostering Transfer Student Success. An opera singer turned academic leader, Eileen is committed to higher education as the social justice issue of our time.

Today, Eileen joins me from ACE2019 to discuss the role of higher education in promoting artists who represent a diverse global community. She shares her commitment to being an unabashed champion of transfer students and describes how she benefited from the ACE Fellows Program with a lifelong network of support. Eileen also explains the shift in demographics of the students we serve and higher education’s responsibility to be responsive and welcoming. Listen in for Eileen’s insight on listening to learn, empathize and respect—and learn how student housing can build a sense of community that fosters compassion and creativity.

Topics Covered

  • Eileen’s belief in the transformative power of music
  • The role of higher ed in promoting diverse artists
  • Why Eileen is an unabashed champion of transfer students
  • How Eileen benefitted from the ACE Fellows Program
  • Addressing similar issues in different contexts in higher ed
  • How the demographics of students we serve are changing
  • Eileen’s key takeaways from ACE2019 in Philadelphia
    • Social inequality vs. social mobility
    • Listen (learn, empathize + respect)
  • What Eileen is looking forward to in her new role at UCLAHow student housing can forge a sense of community

Connect with Eileen

Connect with Leigh Anne


Leigh Anne is the Director of Creative and Brand Marketing at COCM. In her role, she supports the development and implementation of the annual corporate marketing plan. She is responsible for overall brand strategy, content marketing, social media, video production, COCM’s website, marketing materials design and production, as well as serving as our liaison for COCM's sponsorships.