History of the Academy

Edward “Chip” Anderson, Ph.D., spent the majority of his life trying to help students succeed in a higher education environment. Through the courses Anderson taught at UCLA, countless thousands of students attained their goal of successful graduation, and he was recognized for his superb teaching efforts. In 2001, however, Chip wrote, “I was wrong. For nearly half of my professional career, I was wrong about how to help students achieve.”

Anderson realized that although he had helped students achieve a college education, he had not helped propel them to achieving greatness. This awakening set him on a journey to begin a strengths revolution in higher education and landed him at Azusa Pacific University, where he served as professor of doctoral studies in higher education. Through his partnership with the late Don Clifton, CEO of the Gallup Organization, and Lee Noel, cofounder of Noel-Levitz, LLC, the strengths movement began to change the higher education landscape one campus at a time.

In 2002, Laurie Schreiner, Ph.D., co-author of the Student Satisfaction Inventory and professor of psychology at Eastern University, joined Anderson at APU, and together they started the Center for Strengths-Based Education. Upon Anderson’s untimely death in 2005, and through a generous gift from the Lee and Mary Noel family, the Noel Strengths Academy was established by Azusa Pacific University president Jon R. Wallace, DBA, to carry on the important work of introducing and developing a strengths orientation to student success. Subsequently, Eileen Hulme, Ph.D., former vice president for student life at Baylor University, joined the academy staff as its first executive director.

Over the years, the academy has broadened its reach to encompass the development of strengths-oriented leaders and organizations. It boasts clients ranging from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to the Murdock Charitable Trust.