Alma R. Clayton-Pedersen

AAC&U Distinguished Fellow, Office of the President, Emeritus Consulting Group

Dr. Clayton-Pedersen is the Chief Executive Officer of Emeritus Consulting Group, a Chicago-based firm that uses organizational development principles to assist nonprofit, public and education entities in enhancing their efficacy for the public good. She is a former AAC&U Senior Scholar who directed the work of a three-year (2010 – 2013) project Preparing Critical Faculty for the Future, funded by the National Science Foundation.

From 2001 until June 2010 she was AAC&U’s Vice President for Education and Institutional Renewal. Her portfolio included three of AAC&U's ongoing programs and several grant-funded projects. Clayton-Pedersen also directed AAC&U’s partnership with the Pathways to College Network, which focuses on college access and success for underserved students. She served eighteen months as senior policy director and special assistant to AAC&U’s president prior to becoming vice president. She established AAC&U’s national initiative Inclusive Excellence which advanced the Association’s strategic priority: Aim High and Make Excellence Inclusive.

Clayton-Pedersen joined AAC&U after more than 15 years at Vanderbilt University where she served in senior administrative roles within student affairs, academic affairs, athletic affairs and Vanderbilt’s public policy center. She also served as a research associate and an assistant professor of the practice in human and organizational development. While at Vanderbilt she conducted more than 20 studies of student retention, campus climate for diversity, and student use and impact of campus student programming and services. She has co-authored many publications including Making a Real Difference with Diversity: A Guide for Institutional Change, which focuses on changing the diversity paradigm from an add-on to an essential dimension of 21st Century learning and on how to monitor progress in achieving institutional goals for diversity. Enacting Diverse Learning Environments: Improving the Climate for Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Higher Education provides a framework of the dimensions of campus climate. Both illustrate promising practices to enhance the climate for diversity. The Revolving Door for Underrepresented Minority Faculty (pdf) underscores that institutions to be as conscientious about retaining as recruiting faculty of color, and provides critical guidance about how to monitor efforts.

During her nearly 35-year career in education, Dr. Clayton-Pedersen has directed projects funded by the BellSouth, Ford, George Gund, James Irvine and Lumina Foundations, as well as the Carnegie Corp of New York, the Lilly Endowment, the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE), the National Science Foundation and the Metropolitan Nashville Government.

Clayton-Pedersen is a dynamic speaker who provides consultation on faculty professional development, program evaluation, diversity and institutional change to Trustees, academic departments, administrative units and entire campus endeavors including two- and four-year, public and private colleges and universities as well as K-12 school districts and organizations. She has consulted nationally from Maine to California and internationally in Canada, China, and the United Kingdom. She advises foundations, businesses, regional consortia and national associations.

She holds a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and both the M.Ed. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.