National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) Welcomes New Members and Officers

Blog Category: 

  • James (Ike) Adams
  • Margaret Holt
  • Matthew Johnson
  • Betty Knighton
  • Michael Neblo
  • Bill Muse
  • Carol Farquhar Nugent

At the December 5, 2018 meeting in Dayton, Ohio, the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) elected four new members and a vice president. The individuals will begin their terms at the May, 2019 NIFI meeting. The incoming members include: James (Ike) Adams, Professor of Social Work, University of Kentucky; Margaret Holt, retired faculty member, Department of Adult Education, University of Georgia; Matthew Johnson, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, Central Michigan University; and Michael Neblo, Associate Professor of Political Science, The Ohio State University.  Betty Knighton, a Senior Associate of the Kettering Foundation, was elected to serve as Vice President.

Additionally, beginning in May, 2019, Bill Muse will become the NIFI President and Carol Farquhar Nugent will become NIFI Vice President.

Read more about:

  James (Ike) Adams

James P. (Ike) Adams, Jr., is dean emeritus of the University of Kentucky's College of Social Work. He previously served at the University of Alabama as dean of the School of Social Work and was executive assistant to the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Adams holds a BA in sociology from Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, MS, an MSW in social work research from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and a PhD in social work policy, planning, and administration from the University of Minnesota.

  Margaret Holt

Margaret Holt is a retired faculty member in the Department of Adult Education at the University of Georgia, and since 1981 has been an associate with the Charles F. Kettering Foundation. She is one of six founders of the Jeannette Rankin Foundation, a nonprofit organization that annually awards scholarships to older women pursuing higher education. In 2018, she was honored by her state representative, Deborah Gonzalez, on behalf of the Georgia Women’s Legislative Caucus, to receive a Nikki T. Randall Servant Leadership Award. 

She has co-authored two books on educational certificate programs and written numerous articles and reports considering impact evaluations and follow-up studies. She is former editor of the journal Innovative Higher Education and has served as an advisor to the Phi Kappa Phi Journal, The National Forum. In 1993, she was appointed by the United States Secretary of Defense to a four-year term on the Board of Visitors for the Community College of the Air Force. 

She has conducted evaluations for such orgnizations as the National Science Foundation, Army Medic Training at Fort Sam Houston, World Vision, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, Georgia Departmant of Family and Children’s Services, and the US Department of Education. 

Her professional interests include technology (distance education) and learning, evaluation, and program planning. She has taught adult learning theory, program development, public policy and adult education, and instructional methods. She is a graduate of Ohio Northern University and received her EdD in adult education from the University of Georgia.

  Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Central Michigan University. Johnson has taught Critical Perspectives of Development Theory, Educational Research Design, Leadership Theory and Practice, College Student Development, and Student Development Theory. 

An associate editor for the Journal of College & Character, Johnson also sits on the editorial boards for Oracle, The Research Journal of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, and the Journal of College Student Development. He received the Sigma Alpha Pi teaching award in 2015. Johnson holds a PhD from the University of Maryland and an MS from Miami University of Ohio.

Johnson’s research focuses on the intersections of leadership, civic engagement, and social justice. He is interested in how college experiences help students learn and develop into civically engaged citizens who work effectively across differences.

  Betty Knighton

Betty Knighton is a senior associate of the Kettering Foundation. Since her connection with the Foundation began in the early 1990s, she has been keenly interested in exploring democratic practices in economic change, the emergence of learning centers for public life, and citizenship in community.

For two decades, Betty served as the Director of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes public discussion and civic engagement throughout West Virginia. A primary focus of her work has been the development of a collaborative network of educational, civic, faith-based, and governmental organizations interested in working with West Virginia’s residents to address public issues in democratic ways. 

Betty has worked extensively within the National Issues Forums network to create nonpartisan national discussion guides and to develop effective practices for incorporating initiatives that foster deliberative discussions into the life of the community. 

Betty’s early career was spent in the classroom, teaching English in Kanawha County Schools and at the University of Charleston. She received her BA in English and Speech from Morris Harvey College and her MA in Humanities—with a concentration in Irish Studies—from Marshall University. Betty resides in Charleston with her husband Michael. They have three children with appropriately Irish names: Conor, Patrick, and Kathleen.

  Bill Muse

William Muse is president of the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), a non-profit nonpartisan network that, in partnership with the Kettering Foundation, publishes issue guides on major problems facing the nation and works with groups to conduct deliberative forums around the country. NIFI is based in Dayton, Ohio.

During his career in higher education, Muse served as chief executive officer of three major universities over a period of approximately twenty years. He was first selected as president of the University of Akron in 1984 and served in that post until 1992, seeing the university's enrollment expand to over 30,000 students. He also held many leadership posts in Akron, including chairman of the Akron Regional Development Board and director of National City Bank.

In early 1992, Muse was chosen as president of Auburn University, the land-grant university of Alabama. While at Auburn, he served as president of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). He was also a director of Southtrust Bank, Alabama Power Company, and the American Cast Iron Pipe Company. After retiring from Auburn in 2001, Muse served as chancellor of East Carolina University, a university of 22,000 students in eastern North Carolina, before retiring on December 31, 2003.

Muse is a native of Mississippi and attended elementary and secondary schools in both Mississippi and Louisiana. He received his undergraduate education at Northwestern State University in Louisiana, earning a BS degree in accounting. He then attended graduate school at the University of Arkansas, receiving an MBA and a PhD degree in business and administration. He began his teaching career on the faculty of the School of Industrial Management at Georgia Tech, later moving to Ohio University, where he served as chairman of the Department of Marketing and as director of the Division of Research.

Over the next twelve years, Muse served as the dean of the Business School at three different universities, beginning in 1970 as the first dean of Business at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. From 1973-79, he was dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and from 1979-83, dean at Texas A&M University. At Texas A&M, the business school grew to become the fifth largest business school in the nation in terms of full-time undergraduate enrollment.

Prior to going to Akron as president, Muse served for over a year as vice-chancellor for Academic Programs for the Texas A&M University System. He has held a number of national leadership posts, including international president of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity and is currently a member of the board of directors of the TKE Educational Foundation. He also serves on the board of the David Mathews Center for Civic Life in Alabama and as chair of the Advisory Council for the Fuller Center for Housing.

Muse and his wife, Marlene, have three children and four grandchildren. Muse resides in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  Michael Neblo

Michael Neblo is an associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University and director of the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability. His research focuses on deliberative democracy and political psychology. His new book, Politics with the People: Building a Directly Representative Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2018), develops and tests a new model of politics connecting citizens and elected officials to improve representative government. His first book, Deliberative Democracy between Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2015), cuts across the deadlock between supporters of deliberative theory and their empirical critics by focusing on the core goals of the larger deliberative political system. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in a wide range of academic journals, including Science, The American Political Science Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The Journal of Political Philosophy, Political Analysis, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Behavior, Political Research Quarterly, Perspectives on Politics, Political Communication, Acta Politica, The Journal of Medicine & Law, and Social Science & Medicine.

He holds a PhD and an MA in political science from the University of Chicago and a BA in philosophy and mathematical methods in the social sciences (MMSS) from Northwestern University. With various colleagues, Neblo has been the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Kettering Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Templeton Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Veterans Administration, the International Society for Political Psychology, and the Ash Institute, and received a large grant from the National Science Foundation to design and study electronic town hall meetings with the cooperation of members of the US Congress.

  Carol Farquhar Nugent

Carol Farquhar Nugent, long-time executive director of Grantmakers In Aging (GIA), retired December 31, 2011 following a 12-year career with GIA.

As the organization’s first full-time Executive Director, she led a rapidly growing nonprofit membership organization for senior staff and trustees from all sizes and types of foundations involved directly or indirectly with aging. GIA is the only national professional organization of grantmakers active in the field of aging. Through educational activities, programs and publications, GIA serves its members’ needs as a national resource center on aging. Networking and collaboration are the cornerstones of GIA’s work in the philanthropic community. The mission of GIA is: “To Promote and Strengthen Grantmaking for an Aging Society.”

Prior to this appointment in 1999, Ms. Nugent held the position of Program Officer at the Kettering Foundation based in Dayton, Ohio. The Kettering Foundation is an operating foundation with research focused on learning how democracy can work better. Her responsibilities included expansion and support of the National Issues Forums program to promote deliberative democracy.

Since retirement, she has continued to address the needs of local and national nonprofit organizations by serving on the boards of the National Issues Forums Institute and The Dade Fund, a donor advised fund of the Miami, FL Community Foundation. As an active member of SCORE (Senior Corps of Retired Executives), she is working with other volunteers to design and implement a capacity building series of workshops for small nonprofit organizations.

Under her leadership as Executive Director, GIA was the recipient of the National Council on Aging’s Arthur Fleming Award; she was a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging; and selected as the Dayton Daily News’ Top Ten Women.

Ms. Nugent received her Bachelor of Arts in Humanities at the McGregor School at Antioch University, Yellow Springs, Ohio.