In 1977, the Office of Women in Higher Education of the American Council on Education, now known as the Inclusive Excellence Group, began the National Identification Program for the advancement of women in higher education. Initially, the primary purpose of the National Identification Program was to identify and promote the advancement of women in higher education, especially women of color and those who have not participated in the past. Much of the attention was on identifying women for roles as college president, which is a major interest of the American Council on Education.
The program began in the twelve states with the largest number of institutions and students; it now operates in all fifty states, plus New York City, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. A central objective of the national program is to strengthen the state and national networks that have been established. To accomplish this goal, forums and other programs are held in the states.

Virginia became one of the original affiliates, naming itself the Virginia Identification Program (VIP). Thus there is a long history of activity and commitment in the Commonwealth. Virginia is also one of the few states with a history of continuous involvement since other state networks have waxed and waned over the years.

In 1995 the name of the national program was changed to the ACE/National Network of Women Leaders (NNWL), and the program was revised to reflect an expanded role that had developed over the years as the national, regional, and state networks evolved. The changes underscored the program's commitment to crafting an educational, social and political climate in which the worldwide voices and values of women, in all their diversity and richness, are heard and included in efforts to shape the public agenda. Virginia followed suit and briefly became the Virginia Network for Women Leaders (VNWL).

During the early part of 1999, a decision was made at the national level to change the name again, this time to The Network of the American Council on Education, Office of Women in Higher Education. The Virginia affiliate of the national program is now called The Virginia Network of the American Council on Education's Women's Network.

Inaugural State Planning Committee

Stephanie Bennett, University of Richmond 
Annette Gibbs, University of Virginia
Ila Martin, Virginia Commonwealth University 
Jacquelyn Madry-Taylor, Northern Virginia Community College
Alice Mandanis, Marymount University
Dorothy M. Mulberry, Mary Baldwin College
Carolyn Pulley, Tidewater Community College
Jean Walker (Emma Jean Schulken), Virginia Highlands Community College
Ethelyn R. Strong, Norfolk State College (now University)
Sandra Sullivan (State Coordinator), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (now Virginia Tech)

State Chairs​

Dates                        Name                                            Institution
1978-1981           Sandra Sullivan                        Virginia Tech
1981-1983           Jacquelyn Madry-Taylor     Northern Virginia Community College
1981-1984           Stephanie Bennett                University of Richmond
1983-1987           Jean Netherton                       Northern Virginia Community College (Alexandria Campus)
1987-1992           Teresa Gonzalez                     James Madison University
1991-1994           Sybil Todd                                   University of Virginia
1994-1997           Joyce Williams-Green         Virginia Tech
1994-1998           Norrine Bailey-Spencer      Virginia Tech
1998-1999           Shirley Glover                           Old Dominion University
1998-2001           Patsy Joyner                              Paul D. Camp Community College
2001-2004           Patricia Hyer                              Virginia Tech
2004-2007           Connie Gores                             Randolph Macon Woman's College
2006-2008           Loretta Seigley                          Marymount University
2008-2011           Jeanie Kline                                 University of Mary Washington
2011-2014           Elsie Weatherington              Virginia State University
2014-2017           Patty O'Toole                              Hollins University

2017-2020           Amy Springer                              Eastern Mennonite University

​2020-present      Karen Campbell                        Tidewater Community College

Key Network Activities and Milestones

1977                   First Statewide Planning Committee Formed
1980                   First State Conference Held at Virginia Commonwealth University
1988                   Senior Seminar Inaugurated
1991                   Newsletter Goes to Print
1995                   Senior Seminar Reunion
2000                   Network Website and Database of Members "Go Live"
2001                   State Conference Becomes an Annual Event
2002                   Newsletter Goes Electronic
2002                   Senior Seminar Reunion
2003                   First Women of Color Conference at Virginia Union University
2005-2014     Program for Women Executives in Virginia Higher Education (WEVHE)
2006                   Virginia Network Receives ACE Network Program Award
2007                   Virginia Network Celebrates 30th Anniversary
2008                   Norrine Bailey Spencer Scholarship established
2009                   Third women of color conference at Virginia State University
2010                   Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws Approved, the Virginia Network becomes a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

Network History