January 29 2024

Each year during the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute, Credo hosts a dinner to celebrate the work being done across the campuses we work with throughout the year. This year, Credo was joined by presidents from 27 partner institutions and associations.

At this event, Credo honors one extraordinary courageous leader. This award is given to a higher education president whose remarkable vision and dedication have made an indelible impact on their institution, their community, and the students they serve. This year, on January 5, 2024, Illinois College President Dr. Barbara Farley was named the 11th recipient of the Courageous Leadership Award. 

More About Dr. Barbara Farley

Credo Executive Vice President/Owner, Emma Jones, opened the evening of celebration, speaking about collaboration, leadership, and hope. Her remarks follow.

Leading With Hope

Remarks by Emma Jones celebrating courageous leadership 

As we enter 2024 there is such extraordinary turmoil in the world; such challenge and vitriol in the national narrative of higher education. When we published our second book Pivot in 2019 our dust jacket copy started with the sentence: "The news in higher education sure looks bad." I think we can probably all agree that it hasn’t gotten much better since then.  

As all of these challenges move around us, across your campuses, and through your leadership—and every time I read an article about the explosion of a presidency that makes a splash in the news—I think about the fact that there are more than 4,000 college and university presidents across the country like you who get up every day and go to sleep every night working to serve your institutions, your students, and your missions. 


This is both notable and noble—and we hope you know that we see it. We see you in this daily work. We know how tired you are, and yet you still serve and we think at least in part you do so because you still believe in the transformative power of education to change lives, to change families, to transform communities, and to sustain our democracy.  

To serve means that perhaps you, like us, still have hope for the future of higher education. We’ve thought about hope a lot recently, and how important it is to create it. As a Credo community, we have decided in 2024, we will focus our efforts, partnerships, and all the work we do upon the theme: Leading with Hope. We believe that more than ever, it is a time for hope; not a naive hope in a vacuum, but a clear-eyed collaborative anticipation built on forward motion to collectively and courageously engage with the uncertainty of our shared sector and make meaningful change together for the success of our students and shared missions.

Our wish is that you take this hope with you as you lead in the year ahead.  

Thought Questions For Higher Education Leaders

1. What advice would you give a new college president about finding hope through challenge?

2. What is helping you sustain your leadership right now? 

Event Photography

Credo setting
Plated food
Chocolate by place
Amy Novak speaking to the group
Barbara Farley Presenting
Credo Team and Barbara Farley