Those outside the law profession may not have heard of the National Association of College and University Attorneys. But NACUA, and its over 5,000 members covering 1,600 institutions, plays an important role nationwide in advising universities. It’s an organization that provides practice and scholarly resources that cover most aspects of higher education.
Recently, Anthony Hightower, the senior associate general counsel for Augusta University, was elected to the NACUA board of directors. Hightower will serve a three-year term on the board and was elected by his peers nationwide.
“Any time anybody recommends you for something of that nature, it does make you feel good,” said Hightower.
He’s been a part of NACUA for quite some time, having served on a number of committees and continuing to grow, learn and appreciate what the organization does.
“We have a very strong board membership. We’ve done a few dynamic things on long-term impact,” added Hightower.
He said NACUA is active by recommending policies that various institutions undertake.
NACUA also pays close attention to all the rulings in the court system that could impact institutions. Since they are made up of lawyers, it’s an always changing landscape, and being up to speed on everything that goes on nationwide is of the utmost importance.
“I think Title IX is still a matter to which we pay close attention. There have been significant changes in policy and implementation. Also, there’s been a decline in enrollment in higher education. While this may seem to be more of a fiscal matter, the issue could have a trickle effect on various legal matters, as well. Fortunately, Augusta University has bucked the national trend and seen an increase in student enrollment,” Hightower said.
“Student well-being is a major issue that has legal implications. I serve on AU’s CARE Team and know firsthand the importance of mitigating risks by providing resources and support to prevent students from harming themselves and others,” Hightower said.
Hightower earned his undergraduate degree from Clark Atlanta University, a law degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree from Harvard University Kennedy School. He’s been at Augusta University for 17 years. He started with the Medical College of Georgia and experienced the merger of Augusta State University and MCG. He’s seen a lot of changes happen over the years at AU.
He grew up in College Park, Georgia, and, after law school, worked in private practice and served on his local city council. He also did adjunct teaching at Clark Atlanta University and was elected and served in the Georgia House of Representatives. He later worked in the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.
“I worked in that role as an attorney, a senior attorney and supervisory attorney in Dallas and Washington, D.C. So the education piece has been sort of a fabric of what I’ve done in one way or another,” said Hightower.
He landed a job in the University of Wisconsin system, where he headed up the offices of equity, access and diversity, which again led to dealing with a number of issues, ranging from employee and student concerns to equity issues and more.
But Hightower wanted to get back closer to home, and the timing couldn’t have been better.
“I started looking for opportunities, and my background in public education, federal government and other experiences made me a great fit for the role at MCG.”
Working at Augusta University, Hightower said employees need to be fairly versatile to deal with a lot of different things. From contracts to issues related to employment, student affairs, student privacy and research, it involves a wide path of subject matters, which he enjoys.
“I think it’s great because working on such varied issues gives me an appreciation of what’s going on throughout the institution. I don’t think there is a component that I haven’t really dealt with in my career here.”