Clare Cotton Selected to Receive 2006 Paley Award for Service to Private Higher Education

February 07, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C., — Clare Cotton, retired president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts (AICUM), has been selected by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) to receive the 2006 Henry Paley Memorial Award.  He will receive the award from NAICU President David L. Warren on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at the NAICU Annual Meeting.  The meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. 

Since 1985, the Paley Award has recognized an individual who, throughout his or her career, has unfailingly served the students and faculty of independent higher education.  The recipient of this award has set an example for all who would seek to advance educational opportunity in the United States.  The Paley Award is named for Henry Paley, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of New York from 1975 until 1984. 

“Clare Cotton is that increasingly rare figure in American higher education – a person who can take us out of arcane policy conversation to remind us of the larger truths at hand,” said NAICU President David L. Warren. “He does it in his signature style of humor and grace, with a large dose of wisdom.” 

For 17 years, Cotton served as president of AICUM.  In his second year in office, the state’s Gilbert Grants for independent students were targeted to be eliminated. Under Cotton’s leadership, the program was not only saved, but has grown into a major program with annual funding levels in the tens of millions of dollars. 

During the past decade, Cotton has risen to national prominence as an articulate voice for what American higher education is and should be. Congress – both mystified and angry about college cost – established the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education in 1997. Cotton was one of 11 appointees to this distinguished panel, where he immediately established himself as one of its leading figures. “His ability to understand and then explain complex matters of higher education economics added enormously to public understanding of this difficult policy issue,” Warren said.


With the recommendation of Sen. Edward Kennedy, in 2002 the Senate again tapped Cotton to serve on the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, created in 1986 to advise Congress on national higher education and student aid policy. Cotton was appointed committee chair in 2003. During his tenure, the committee has put forward innovative proposals in such diverse areas as streamlining the student aid application process, identifying future federal student aid eligibility for low-income students, and improving coordination of state, federal, and private student aid funds.  

Cotton also has served as a leading national voice for private higher education in his roles as chair of the National Association of Independent College and University State Executives (NAICUSE) and a member of the NAICU board of directors. In addition, he has served as a national negotiator for private colleges at numerous negotiated rulemaking sessions conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.  

“In recognition of his artful engagement with the thorniest of higher education issues over the years, his lucid insights into state and national policy and politics, and his extraordinary service to private higher education throughout his career, we are honored to present the 2006 Henry Paley Memorial Award to Clare Cotton,” said Warren. NAICU serves as the unified national voice of independent higher education. 

With nearly 1,000 member institutions and associations nationwide, NAICU reflects the diversity of private, nonprofit higher education in the United States.  NAICU members enroll 85 percent of all students attending private institutions.  They include traditional liberal arts colleges, major research universities, church- and faith-related institutions, historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, single-sex colleges, art institutions, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions.    


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