About NCAD

The National Conference of Academic Deans

Established in 1941 by Drs. Schiller Scroggs and Henry Bennett at Oklahoma State University, the National Conference of Academic Deans (NCAD) is one of the nation’s oldest organizations focused on the deanship. The conference is a self-perpetuating event, held annually in July at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway, Arkansas. Conference participants include chief and associate academic officers, deans, associate deans, and other academic leaders representing colleges and universities from across the nation. A major strength of the conference is that programs are planned by academic leaders to address problems relevant to them. The small size of the conference is also a plus. Typically there are 60 to 70 participants which provides an ideal setting for informal discussions and the development of friendships with fellow academic leaders. The fact that so many participants return to the conference (some for more than 20 years) offers testimony to the value of NCAD. Each year there is a three-hour pre-conference workshop before the opening welcome reception that provide participants with professional development specifically geared towards academic leadership. The conference offers a range of session formats, including concurrent and plenary speakers, roundtables, and panel discussions. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are provided during each day of the conference, as well as hors d’oeuvres and drinks during each reception.

Higher education historians who study administrative trends would be interested in reviewing conference themes over the past seven decades. This list of themes may be found on the conference Website at www.uca.edu/ncad/conferences/. The theme for the first annual meeting in 1941, “Problems of the Dean”, is significant because it defined the purpose of the conference, which was to give deans a forum where they could discuss the challenges of the day in an informal and intimate setting. Throughout the history of the National Conference, the format and limited size of this event clearly reflects consistent adherence to the intentions of the founders of NCAD.

At the close of the conference, participants submit an evaluation, which serves as an excellent source of information for the conference host and the chair as programs are planned for the following year. This information also offers insight into why so many participants continue to return each summer. Many of the participants new to the deanship, for example, report that they appreciate the opportunity to learn from experienced administrators. Others state that learning how deans from different parts of the country address problems gives them a new perspective on the challenges they face. Experienced and new deans alike see the development of friendships with colleagues, and the opportunity to call each other for advice on perplexing issues as a major benefit of their participation in the conference.

The conference was held on the campus of Oklahoma State University until 1995, when it was relocated to the University of Memphis. It then moved to Texas Women’s University in 1999, and came to the University of Central Arkansas in 2001. Participants appreciate the convenience of the conference in Conway, which is an easy 30 minute drive from Little Rock National Airport. They also praise the inexpensive cost of the conference and hotels, and the exceptional quality of conference facilities at the Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas. Information about the next conference is posted on the conference Website at www.uca.edu/ncad. Specific questions about the conference may be directed to ncad@uca.edu.