President Isiaah Crawford Elected to National Role Advocating for Higher Education

February 12, 2021

Tacoma, Wash. – At yesterday’s Annual Meeting and Advocacy Day of the National Association for Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), University of Puget Sound President Isiaah Crawford was elected chair of the board of directors. He will take office for a one-year term beginning July 1, 2021.

With more than 5 million students attending 1,700 independent colleges and universities in all 50 states, and more than 1 million employees, the private sector of American higher education has a dramatic impact on our nation’s larger public interests. NAICU board members set the association’s agenda on federal higher education policy on a wide range of topics such as student financial aid, access to higher education, and college choice.

“Isiaah Crawford possesses a deep commitment to private higher education and an insightful view of the political environment in Washington,” said NAICU President Barbara K. Mistick, D.M. “As president of the University of Puget Sound, he has helped focus the university community on a student-centered approach to learning designed to provide students with a meaningful, relevant, accessible, and distinctive education.”

“At a time when private, nonprofit colleges and universities face many pressing issues, I am honored to have been selected to serve in this key leadership position,” Crawford said.  “Our advocacy focus moving forward will be on securing COVID financial relief for our institutions and our students and increasing federal student aid, including doubling the maximum Pell Grant awards, among many other issues.  NAICU’s work in Washington, DC, has wide-ranging implications for campuses across the country. I look forward to working with the NAICU team and member presidents to achieve our goals.”

NAICU serves as the national voice of independent higher education and reflects the diversity of private, nonprofit higher education in the United States.  Member institutions include major research universities, church-related colleges, historically black colleges, art and design colleges, traditional liberal arts and science institutions, women’s colleges, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions.

Crawford Background

A distinguished scholar, teacher, and college administrator, Crawford became president of University of Puget Sound on July 1, 2016. Crawford’s academic work and achievements as a senior administrator are closely aligned with the values and aspirations of Puget Sound, and with the key areas of challenge and opportunity facing higher education today.

Crawford came to Puget Sound following service as provost and chief academic officer of Seattle University (2008–16), where he directed the Division of Academic Affairs and oversaw the university’s schools and colleges, libraries, enrollment, information technology, institutional research, and offices supporting student academic achievement, faculty affairs, and global engagement. From 2004 to 2008, he was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago, where he joined the faculty of the Department of Psychology in 1987.

Crawford earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from St. Louis University, and master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from DePaul University. He is an accomplished clinician and well-published scholar in the areas of health promotion, human sexuality and the training of mental health professionals, and the recipient of numerous national awards, including three from the American Psychological Association.

He serves on the board of directors for The Annapolis Group, Independent Colleges of Washington, and the Northwest Conference, as well as the Tacoma Art Museum, Seattle Symphony, Providence St. Joseph Health, and Providence Health Plan. More information about President Crawford and University of Puget Sound is available at