Montana State University

MSU College of Engineering Dean Receives ACE Fellowship

March 29, 2012 -- Sepp Jannotta, MSU News Service

Robert Marley, who has been a faculty member at MSU for 22 years and dean of the College of Engineering for the past 11 years, has been named one of 57 American Council on Education Fellows for the 2012-13 academic year. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN - Robert Marley, dean of Montana State University's College of Engineering, has been named one of 57 American Council on Education Fellows for the 2012-13 academic year.

Marley, who has been a faculty member at MSU for 22 years and dean of the College of Engineering for the past 11 years, was nominated for the fellowship by MSU Provost Martha Potvin.

"To know that I've been selected alongside this incredibly accomplished group of people, it's quite an honor," Marley said. "And, because I love working with faculty and students and being a part of this community, I'm happy I will have an opportunity to give something back to MSU."

Like the rest of his ACE Fellows Program class, Marley will spend a year working closely with the president of another university or college. While there, Marley said he will likely focus on learning how system-wide processes and infrastructure function within that university system. Marley said he would learn in the coming weeks which institution would host him.

The ACE Fellows Program was established in 1965 with the goal of strengthening institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing promising senior faculty and administrators for responsible positions in college and university administration.

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 1,700 participants in the first 47 years of the program, more than 300 have become chief executive officers and more than 1,100 have become provosts, vice presidents, or deans.

This year the program will include 57 fellows, who were nominated by the presidents or chancellors of their institutions and selected following a rigorous application process, McDade said.

"We're extremely pleased with the strength of the incoming class," McDade added. "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."

Marley, who holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in engineering from Wichita State University, began his career at MSU in 1990. The idea of working to be a better leader and continuing to learn 20 years into his academic career holds tremendous appeal, Marley said.

"This is a really nice opportunity for me to enhance my skills, because administrators don't get a sabbatical year to go out and renew their perspective on what they do and how they do it," Marley said. "This is an chance to move outside of what I do and work with some new people who are busy addressing a new set of problems. I think that's going to be invaluable to me and will be something that will benefit MSU and the College of Engineering when I come back to my position here."

Potvin agreed.

"This prestigious fellowship will allow Dr. Marley to learn from national leaders in higher education and to observe what works at other campuses that could be implemented at Montana State University," Potvin said.

Marley stressed that, while an acting dean would lead the College of Engineering in his absence, he would be returning following his yearlong fellowship.

"I've heard a lot of people say that programs like this are a one-way street, with the fellow heading out the door and in the direction of some other institution," Marley said. "I do understand where that sentiment might come from, it's not the case here. While I'm certainly happy to be advancing my career, I'm committed to returning to MSU."

Marley said Potvin would be holding a meeting with College of Engineering faculty to discuss the interim situation in the dean's office.

Contact: Sepp Jannotta at (406) 994-7371, or