2020 PACE Conference 024

PACE Conference

NCCE’s annual Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement (PACE) Conference seeks to grow and share the practice and scholarship of higher education community and civic engagement. Launched in 1999, PACE is the longest running conference in the nation focused on this topic.

Plenary and breakout sessions advance the higher education CCE (community and civic engagement) field by sharing research findings, innovative programs and partnerships, effective curricular or co-curricular models, strategies for institutional capacity building, and best practices. Faculty, administrators, graduate students, and  community partners are all welcome to explore “Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement.” The Call for Proposals is typically released in September, with a deadline in November.  

At PACE, NCCE presents the annual Engagement Awards.

PACE - Navy with Light Blue Path

2024 PACE Conference
February 14, 2024
Guilford College, Greensboro


We are so excited to welcome over 200 participants from 29 campuses in six states to the 25th annual PACE Conference. The agenda includes presentation of the annual Engagement Awards, two outstanding keynotes speakers, 27 breakout sessions, networking, and prizes! 

Agenda at a Glance


8:30 a.m. Check-in and continental breakfast
9:30 a.m.

Opening Session

Presentation of NCCE 2024 Engagement Awards

Keynote: Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr.

11:00 a.m. Break and transition to sessions
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Breakout Sessions Block One
12:20 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions Block Two
2:40 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. Breakout Sessions Block Three
3:50 p.m.

Afternoon Snack Break & Closing Session

Keynote: Dr. Elizabeth Niehaus

4:50 p.m. Door prizes & reflection
5:00 p.m. Adjournment

 Morning Keynote
John Silvanus Wilson, Jr.

Since October 2021, Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr. has served as the executive director of the Millennium Leadership Initiative, a leadership development program to diversity the college presidency, under the
American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). He also serves as a Visiting Professor of Practice at the School of Education at Morgan State University.

From August 2017 to October 2021, he served at Harvard University, first as a President in Residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, then as the Senior Advisor and Strategist to the Harvard President, where he guided the University’s launch of a new effort to enhance belonging. His final year there was spent as a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Business School, where he completed a book on the future of higher education, with emphasis on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Hope and Healing: Black Colleges and the
Future of American Democracy , was released by the Harvard Education Press in May 2023.

In the nine years prior to arriving at Harvard, he served in the first term under President Barack Obama as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He then served with distinction as the 11th President of Morehouse College, his Alma Mater.

Between 2001 and 2009, he was as an Associate Professor and an Executive Dean at the George Washington University. In 1985, he began his career with a 16-year stay at MIT, mostly as a senior fundraising official in two major capital campaigns. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College, a Master of Theology from Harvard University, and both Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Administration, Planning and Social Policy, also from Harvard University. Wilson has won numerous awards and has served on several trustee boards, including Harvard University and Spelman College.

He is married to Dr. Carol Espy-Wilson, an engineering professor and entrepreneur at the University of Maryland, College Park. They are the proud parents of three adult children — twin daughters and a son.

Afternoon Keynote
Elizabeth Niehaus

Dr. Niehaus serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She was a 2020-2021 Fellow and 2022-2023 Senior Fellow with the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. Her research focuses on how we can create and improve educational environments to facilitate student learning and development in higher education with a particular emphasis on the intersections of issues of free speech, academic freedom, and campus climate.

Brief History of PACE

1999 – NC Campus Volunteers (NCCV) (NCCE’s predecessor org) hosts 1st “Service-Learning Institute” at Elon University

2004 – Name changed to Service-Learning Conference

2009 – Name changed to PACE

2011 – Inaugural Presidents Forum hosted in conjunction with PACE

Summary of Past PACE Conferences

Host Campuses

While the PACE Conference is typically hosted at Elon University, it has also been hosted twice at High Point University and one time at UNC Greensboro and UNC Wilmington.  

Keynote Speakers

NCCE has been fortunate to host many of the top leaders in higher education and the community and civic engagement field. 

Leaders of higher education and civic organizations (they are listed with the role/title they held at the time they participated in PACE)

  • Dr. Ted Mitchell, President, American Council on Education
  • Jamie Merisotis, President, Lumina Foundation for Education
  • Eric Liu, CEO, Citizen University
  • Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, president of The ALL IN Democracy Challenge
  • John B. King, Jr., president and CEO of the Education Trust
  • Jody Kretzmann, co-founder and co-director of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute, Northwestern University
  • Caryn McTighe Musil, Association of American Colleges and Universities
  • President Mark Gearan, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Syracuse University
  • Nicole Gallant, Director, Learn & Serve America, Corporation for National & Community Service

Leading Practitioner-Scholars in the higher education community & civic engagement field (they are listed with the role/title they held at the time they participated in PACE). 

  • Edward Zlotkowski, Bentley College
  • Patti Clayton, Consultant
  • Rick Battistoni, Professor of Political Science and Public and Community Service Studies, and Director of the Feinstein Institute for Public Service, at Providence College
  • Byron White, Vice President for University Engagement and Chief Diversity Officer at Cleveland State University
  • Barbara Holland, Researcher and Consultant
  • Peter Levine, Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs,   Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University and Director, CIRCLE, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement
  • Judith Ramaley, President Emerita and Distinguished Professor of Public Service, Portland State University and President Emerita, Winona State University
  • Robert W. Franco, Kapi’olani Community College, University of Hawai’i
  • Robert L. Sigmon, Service-Learning pioneer
  • Kenneth Reardon, Cornell University
  • Janet Eyler, Vanderbilt University
  •  Robert Bringle, Director of the IUPUI Center for Service and Learning,
  • Andrew Furco, Director of UC Berkeley’s Service Learning Research and Development Center
  • Barbara Jacoby, University of Maryland – College Park