Epstein named ACM Mellon Academic Leadership Fellow
St. Olaf College Associate Professor of Music Louis Epstein has been awarded an Academic Leadership Fellowship from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) consortium. The grant is funded by the Mellon Foundation.
ACM Mellon Academic Leadership Fellows are tenured faculty who have demonstrated leadership capabilities, a commitment to diversity and inclusive equity, and the potential to have a transformative impact through leadership at their current or future institutions. As contributors to senior leadership discussions, each fellow will lead a project or portfolio of responsibilities as identified by the host college’s senior leadership team.
For his project, Epstein will lead a study on how St. Olaf students can develop and strengthen a sense of belonging at the college, with a focus on student-faculty interactions. As part of this work, he has been named the special assistant to the provost for student belonging and retention.
“This fall I’ll be talking with students and faculty and reading many articles and books to learn about how belonging is defined within our community as well as by scholars beyond our community,” Epstein says. “Then, in the spring, I’ll study what aspects of student-faculty interactions best support students’ sense of belonging.”
After receiving the fellowship, in June Epstein attended a leadership training at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, with nine other ACM fellows.
Epstein, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his doctorate from Harvard University, has been heavily involved in all aspects of college life since arriving at St. Olaf in 2014. He has served twice on the Faculty Governance Committee, most recently as chair from 2021 through 2023, and also served as the Faculty Representative to the Board of Regents in 2021-22 and 2022-23. Epstein served as co-director of the Center for Innovation in the Liberal Arts (CILA) from 2021 to 2023.
“Serving as CILA co-director was a formative opportunity to think about some of the same issues that I continue to think about as an ACM-Mellon Academic Leadership Fellow,” Epstein says. “I constantly picked up new teaching techniques from my brilliant faculty and staff colleagues; I learned about Universal Design for Learning and accessibility so that I could l lead workshops and train others in those areas; I developed trainings for new faculty and led a yearlong new faculty learning community, both of which sometimes involved zany activities and lots of vulnerability. I’m grateful that I had the chance to learn and grow in those ways before I took on my new role.”