You could say that David Ward is the Washington insider who isn't afraid to be an outsider when necessary. Ward, a British native, has served on a myriad of higher education councils and committees and has been president of the American Council on Education since September 2001. As ACE leader in the turbulent days after 9/11, he stressed the importance of international relationships and the welcoming of students and scholars from other nations. Most recently he was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to serve on the National Commission on the Future of Higher Education, but declined to sign the final report. At the time the report was issued, in fall 2006, Ward questioned the recommendation that higher education institutions provide information for a new database meant to track student achievement. Ward cautioned against the approach, worrying about unanswered financial and privacy concerns.
"In some ways there is no ideal time to leave a job like this-the political environment in Washington is especially complex and new issues are constantly emerging," he said in a statement. That may be Ward's greatest understatement. Lawmakers are now tackling education issues on all fronts: the long delayed reauthorization of the Higher Education Act; a revamp of the student loan system; a new call for accountability; and debates on No Child Left Behind, President Bush's landmark K-12 education law.
Given the political stage in Washington, D.C., it is a sure bet that Ward won't be out of reach. He plans to continue writing, lecturing, and consulting about higher education.
Ward, who turns 70 next year, simply says he and his wife, Judith, want more flexibility at this time in life. -Jean Marie Angelo