2022 Academic Affairs Summer Meeting: Speakers

Heather Adams

Heather AdamsHeather Adams is a senior program manager at the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program (CEP), leading the development of transfer initiatives. Prior to joining CEP, Adams served as the director of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Transfer Student Center and director of UCLA College Learning Communities. Adams’ work has centered on generating institutionalized receptivity, support, and policy restructuring for underserved student communities through strategic partnership and practice. Adams advocated for the establishment of the UCLA Transfer Center and transformed a program serving 300 students annually to a thriving and collaborative campus center that provides resources and support to over 27,000 transfer students each year. A proud community college transfer student, Adams earned an A.A. in psychology from Santa Monica College, and transferred to UCLA, where she obtained a B.A. in psychology and an Ed.D. in educational leadership.

Robert Atkins

Bob AtkinsBob Atkins leads Gray Associates and the development of Gray’s education industry software and services. He works with Gray’s education clients, consulting with presidents, CAOs, CFOs, and CMOs on program assessment, institutional strategy, pricing, and location selection. Since founding Gray Associates, Atkins has worked with institutions across all sectors of higher education, including the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, University of Cincinnati, Northcentral University, Baker College, Bay Path University, Massachusetts Bay Community College, the University of Maryland, and Universal Technical Institute, to develop institutional and programmatic growth strategies, identify new markets, and model program and course economics. Prior to founding Gray Associates, Atkins worked with corporate clients such as AT&T, American Express, HP, and IBM to develop growth strategies, enter new markets, and build their channel organizations. Atkins is a published author, whose articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Sales and Marketing Management, and other publications around the world. His new book, Start, Stop, or Grow? A Data-Informed Approach to Academic Program Evaluation and Management, was published in 2022. Bob received an MBA, with honors, from Harvard Business School and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Harvard College.

Carlos Ayala

Carlos AyalaA longtime educator, administrator, and former dean of Sonoma State University’s College of Education, Carlos Ayala is the president and chief executive officer of Growing Inland Achievement (GIA), an education collaborative focused on improving the economic outlook of the Inland Empire by raising the region’s educational attainment rates. He began his academic work as a chemist, science and math teacher, small business owner, and school principal in Calexico, Cal. At Stanford University, he was a quantitative educational researcher specializing in formative assessment tools for continuous learning and improvement. As dean at Sonoma State University, he worked across the university to support Sonoma’s first successful Hispanic-Serving Institution grant, the campus Maker Space and Maker Faculty Learning Community, and campus-wide social justice initiatives. In the Sonoma community, he worked alongside numerous K-12 superintendents, community college leadership, and community programs to support all students in their college and career goals. Ayala has bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and environmental studies from the University of California Santa Cruz, a master’s in educational leadership from San Diego State University, and a doctorate in education from Stanford University.

Prateek Basavaraj

Prateek Basavaraj Prateek Basavaraj is the senior research analyst for student success at AASCU. Prior to joining AASCU, he served as graduate research assistant at the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Central Florida (UCF). He worked on the student success project as part of the Targeted Educational Attainment grant sponsored by the Florida legislature to improve the graduation rates of undergraduate computing programs at UCF. Prior to his last position, Basavaraj worked as a research technician at the UCF Office of Research and Commercialization. His research expertise lies in academic analytics, institutional research, and program quality improvement. Basavaraj has worked on several projects studying the STEM program curriculum and quality enhancement of computing programs to improve student success. Basavaraj has published and presented at national and international level conferences. He served as a reviewer for academic journals and conferences. Basavaraj earned his Ph.D. in industrial engineering from UCF with an emphasis in the area of higher education data analytics, his M.S. in computer science from UCF, and his B.S. in computer science from Kuvempu University in India.

Brian Bedford

Brian BedfordA collaborative leader, inspirational visionary, and transformational change agent with more than 20 years of experience demonstrating leadership within multiple environments including private and nonprofit sectors as well as higher education, Brian Bedford is well known for developing an inspiring strategic vision, practicing equity-minded leadership, and leveraging his comprehensive acumen in complex and ambiguous work environments to achieve desired outcomes. Bedford is currently the associate dean of strategic initiatives at California State University, Sacramento. Regarded as a strategist, his primary focus is leading regional strategic initiatives and key programs with an equity-centric approach. Bedford earned his Doctor of Education at the University of the Pacific with a focus on leadership and innovation. His research concentrated on key factors beyond race that contribute to the absence of the Black male from the E-suite, operationalizing equity in the workplace, and innovative solutions to increase diverse representation. 

Andy Benoit

Andy Benoit Andy Benoit began his career in higher education in 1995 at his alma mater, McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for what would become a 28-year record of service in the field of enrollment management. Over the span of this career, Benoit has held responsibility for organizational areas including admissions, recruitment, registrar, advising, financial aid, retention programs, orientation, and military and veteran services. His roles have included recruiter, senior recruiter, coordinator, associate director, director, assistant vice president, and service as vice president for enrollment management at Lander University in South Carolina (2016–2019) and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (2019–present). He is the current chair of the Texas A&M University System Enrollment Management Council/Community of Practice and is co-chair-elect of the Apply Texas Advisory Council. In addition to his service on and off campus, he has presented at over 35 local, state, regional, and national conferences on topics related to enrollment management, educational leadership, and higher educational opportunities. Benoit has a B.A. in speech communication and an M.Ed. in instructional technology, both from McNeese State University (La.), post-graduate work in human resource education and workforce development from Louisiana State University, and an Ed.D. in educational leadership from Liberty University. 

Jerel Benton

Jerel BentonJerel Benton currently serves as the special assistant to the provost and interim associate vice president for student success at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Under his leadership, he provides direction for the Office of Student Success, including Academic Advising and Coaching, Academic Testing, Student Success Data and Technology, Academic Support and Mentoring, Federal Student Programs, and the Center for Athletic Academic Services. Benton received his Doctor of Education from Eastern Kentucky University, Master of Arts in adult and higher education from Morehead State University (Ky.), and Bachelor of Science in nursing from Western Kentucky University. His previous roles include senior diversity officer at University of Wisconsin-Superior and associate director of university assessment and testing and minority retention coordinator at Morehead State University.

Daneen Bergland

Daneen Bergland Daneen Bergland is a writer and a senior instructor in University Studies, the general education program at Portland State University. She teaches interdisciplinary courses for sophomores on the themes of popular culture and American identities, and an online, community-based learning course for juniors. She received an M.A. in poetry writing from Portland State University and a B.S. in women's studies and creative writing from Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University, Mankato). Her expertise is in online learning and her research interests include the scholarship of teaching and learning, specifically media literacy, civic learning, and democratic engagement.

Don Betz

Don BetzDon Betz is executive director of international programs and global initiatives at AASCU. He has about a 50-year distinguished career in higher education. Betz has led three institutions as president/chancellor: the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) in Oklahoma City; Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma (capital of the Cherokee Nation); and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He was provost/VPAA at UCO and at Palmer College in Davenport, Iowa.

Carrie Billy

Carrie BillyCarrie Billy, a member of the Navajo Nation, is the president and CEO of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Through AIHEC, the nation’s 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) work toward strong sovereign nations through excellence in tribal higher education. Throughout her career, she has focused on developing equity-centered strategic initiatives and innovative policies and programs founded on tribal culture and values—including AIHEC AIMS, a comprehensive TCU data system, and the Indigenous Evaluation Framework, which incorporates Indigenous epistemology and core tribal values into a framework that integrates place, community, individuality, and sovereignty with Western evaluation practice. Billy has worked to forge partnerships and drafted legislation designating TCUs as 1994 land-grant institutions and creating a new federal designation for Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Her career reflects a commitment to public service—protecting and promoting the cultures, rights, and well-being of American Indians and improving the quality of life and educational status of all. Billy has undergraduate degrees from the University of Arizona and Salish Kootenai College and a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center. She was appointed by former President William J. Clinton as the inaugural executive director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges.

Sue Borrego

Sue BorregoSue Borrego is a student-centered leader with a commitment to academic innovation and a passion for community transformation. She is an accomplished educator, administrator, and former chancellor at the University of Michigan-Flint. Borrego is a nationally known leader and advocate for student success, particularly for traditionally underrepresented students. Recognized as an expert on access and inclusion, she has served on numerous boards and national task forces. She currently holds a tenured faculty appointment in the School of Education and Human Services at the University of Michigan-Flint. Known for crisis management in addition to increasing student success, Borrego provided critical leadership for the campus and community organizations during the Flint water crisis. Under her leadership, the university experienced increases in retention and graduation rates. The university's footprint grew by 25%, including breaking ground on a 65,000 square-foot addition to the science facilities, establishing the School of Nursing, raising over $57 million, and adding 15 new innovative academic programs, including green chemistry and physician’s assistant programs. 

Jacob Boucher

Jacob BoucherJacob Boucher is the president of the Associated Students of Washington State University Vancouver (ASWSUV) and is currently an undergraduate majoring in psychology with minors in political science and English. He has previously served in ASWSUV at different times as internal director of legislative affairs, senate chair pro-tempore, and senator. Externally, he serves on the board of directors of the Washington Student Association, an advocacy group to advocate for all students of higher education institutions in the state of Washington. Previously, he was the chair of the legislative committee in Washington State University’s Student Government Council. In his various roles, he has worked to help students find and amplify their voices, hosting conversations about relevant political topics, organizing lobbying events for students, and bringing candidates and elected officials to Washington State University Vancouver.

Terry Brown

Terry BrownTerry Brown is the vice president for academic innovation and transformation at AASCU. She oversees a division that provides programming and services to help members fulfill their academic mission, primarily in the areas of civic engagement, international education, student success, and teacher education. She served for nearly 25 years in the University of Wisconsin System as tenured faculty in the field of English and as an academic leader at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and served as provost at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Most recently, she served as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia. She is an advocate for accessible, affordable public higher education, a cause which motivates her work and informs her decisions. In nearly 20 years of academic leadership, Brown has led colleges and universities in integrated and strategic academic and enrollment planning, aligning budget and space resources to academic priorities. As a first-generation college student, she is committed to student success and spearheaded several efforts to increase college completion.

Randy Bumpers

Randy Bumpers Randy Bumpers is AASCU’s assistant director of student success and learning experience design. He earned his Master of Science in instructional design and development from the University of South Alabama. While in graduate school, he trained faculty in online and blended learning pedagogy as an instructional design graduate assistant at the Innovation in Learning Center. He is also a member of the 2018 class of the Harvard National Institute of Urban School Leaders. He began advocating for educational equity after facing the challenges of a minority, first-generation college student. Bumpers is co-founder of the Giving Access to the People (GAP) Project, an educational program that aims to enhance the quality of life for all youth. He is a member of the Association of Educational Communications and Technology, where he serves on the board for the Division of Culture, Learning, and Technology. Bumpers’ philosophy of learning design is that every learner can be reached if you meet them where they are. 

Pamela Burdman

Pamela BurdmanPamela Burdman, a policy analyst and strategist on equitable college access, readiness, and success, is the founder and executive director of Just Equations, a policy institute focused on reconceptualizing the role of mathematics in education equity. She began her career as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and first focused on math equity issues as a program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, working with the early developers of new college statistics pathways. She is the author of numerous reports and articles on math opportunities that have influenced policy changes in K–12 and postsecondary math education in California and beyond. She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and East Asian studies from Princeton University and a master’s in business administration and master’s in Asian studies from University of California, Berkeley. 

Demitris Cambric

Demitris CambricDemitris Cambric is the executive director for academic technology at Prairie View A&M University. In her role, Cambric is responsible for leading efforts to maintain service and support to the academic units through technology. Cambric has been charged with managing various duties, ranging from budget planning to multiple system implementations. Cambric developed a data analysis tool and coordinated and implemented a catalog and curriculum system for the university. From consultant to full-time employment, she was charged with overseeing all projects, including upgrading and outfitting classrooms with new learning tools. Supporting units—financial aid, recruitment, admissions, registrar’s office, library, and others—ensure they have the appropriate software and programs to serve the university’s nearly 10,000 students. Cambric holds her Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate, a B.S. in business with a focus on marketing, and an M.S. in psychology from the University of Phoenix. She also earned her M.S. in education counseling from the University of St. Thomas.

David Capranos

David CapranosDavid Capranos is the director of market strategy and research at Wiley. In his role managing the market research team, Capranos conducts extensive research to identify demand, market opportunities, and potential challenges to ultimately highlight academic programs that align with current demand. His team plays a vital role in determining the viability of educational programs in the online market and helping universities stay ahead of industry and market trends. Capranos has a background as a business analyst in higher education marketing, evaluating marketing tactics, and helping implement technologies such as a student relationship management and project management system. Born in Toronto, Canada, Capranos received his bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Central Florida and his MBA from the University of Scranton.

Ramsey Cardwell

Ramsey CardwellRamsey Cardwell is an assessment scientist at Duolingo working on the Duolingo English Test. He received his Ph.D. in educational measurement from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Before joining Duolingo, he interned at College Board and the Medical Council of Canada. He has also presented at multiple national and international academic conferences in the fields of educational measurement and language testing.

Kathleen Cassity

Kathleen Cassity Kathleen Cassity serves as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and as professor of English at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Cassity’s academic specialties include writing pedagogy, Anglo-Indian and postcolonial studies, creative nonfiction/life writing, and transformative learning. She is co-editor of an anthology of Anglo-Indian writing, Curtain Call: Anglo-Indian Reflections, and author of numerous journal articles and book chapters. Her administrative philosophy is grounded in principles of positive leadership, liberal arts advocacy, and collaboration. She currently resides in Salem, Oregon, with her husband, two children, three cats, and one dog. An amateur musician. she plays piano, violin, and Celtic harp. She also enjoys cooking, crafting, photography, and travel, in addition to the expected “English professor” pursuits of reading and writing.

Amy Chasteen

Amy ChasteenAmy L. Chasteen, executive vice provost at the University of Southern Mississippi, has over 25 years of higher education experience as a professor and administrator. As a sociologist, Chasteen has taught 5,000+ students in more than a dozen classes, including gender and sexuality, sociology of health, deviant behavior, and race and ethnicity. Her teaching background and perspective as a sociologist now inform her work as an administrator. In her current role, Chasteen leads institutional efforts around enrollment management, student success, and faculty development. She oversees a dozen offices, including the Center for Faculty Development, the Center for Student Success, and the University Advisement Center. Through collaborative engagement across a variety of areas, she develops and implements key initiatives to promote evidence-based practices, increased equity, and long-term social change. Chasteen earned her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Michigan, where she also obtained a graduate certificate in women’s and gender studies. She holds an M.A. in sociology from the University of Tennessee and a B.A. from the University of Alabama. 

Ben Chester

Ben ChesterBen started his higher education career as the CEO of TimeEdit USA, an academic scheduling platform geared towards resource optimization and letting universities do more with less. After TimeEdit merged with Coursedog in 2020, he now focuses on helping universities and colleges streamline their academic operations in order to improve student experiences and outcomes. Chester holds a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and a master’s degree from Columbia University.

Adry Snorradottir Clark

Adry Snorradottir ClarkAdry Snorradottir Clark serves as the director of service learning and career development at Western Oregon University. She earned her doctorate in counseling from Oregon State University. Her research focuses on the intersection of social class and career development. Clark has worked in career development for more than twenty years, including higher education, private practice, and workforce development. 

Jackie Coomes

Jackie CoomesJackie Coomes, associate dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and professor of mathematics education at Eastern Washington University, has worked in and led multiple projects to increase mathematics success for college students throughout her 23-year career in higher education. Most recently, her work has included building pathways into mathematics requirements; designing, implementing, and studying co-requisites; and instituting transcript-based placement. Prior work involves collaborating with high schools and community colleges to improve students’ transitions at key points in their educational trajectories.

Cathy Copeland

Cathy CopelandCatherine Copeland is the director of the American Democracy Project at AASCU. Prior to AASCU, Copeland taught for more than 15 years at various institutions of higher education, including James Madison University (JMU, Va.), the University of Alabama, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Purdue Global, and Blue Ridge Community College (Va.). Most recently, as an instructor with JMU Xlabs, Copeland taught a series of transdisciplinary courses that encouraged students to use innovative research methods to tackle real-world problems such as the 2020 Census, human trafficking, the 2020 elections, and food insecurity. This work also included addressing local, state, and national diplomatic and defense issues through partnerships with the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. State Department, and other government agencies. Copeland served as a 2019–2020 civic fellow for the Madison Center for Civic Engagement and graduated in 2018 from the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute Political Leaders Program. She earned an M.A. in English literature from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a B.A. in biology from Hanover College. She also completed doctoral coursework in renaissance literature at the University of Alabama.

Leanne Davis

Leanne Davis Leanne Davis is the senior director of education and training services at The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University. Before joining The Hope Center, she was an associate director of research and policy at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), where she led research, policy, and advocacy projects centering on equitable access to and success in postsecondary education, including leading Degrees When Due and TransferBOOST. Prior to joining IHEP, Leanne spent nearly one decade as a college counselor, which fueled her interest in understanding how students make college decisions and how the resources available to them play a role in that decision. Leanne holds a M.A. in higher education administration from The George Washington University, with a concentration in policy and finance, and a B.S. in political science from the United States Naval Academy.

Armando De Alba

Armando De Alba Armando De Alba has worked as a project coordinator since the summer of 2021 for the DISCOVERe program at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State). Previously, De Alba served for four years as a student assistant for DISCOVERe, where he learned the ins and outs of what this program is all about. He specializes in digital mobile technology and is responsible for the coordination of the CSUCCESS and DISCOVERe programs that provide a campus-wide distribution of iPads, hotspots, and more. De Alba earned degrees in biology and chemistry from Fresno State and is currently working on his master’s degree in biotechnology.

Grady Dixon

Grady DixonGrady Dixon earned a B.S. in meteorology from Mississippi State University followed by M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geography from University of Georgia and Arizona State University, respectively. He spent nine years at Mississippi State University as an assistant and associate professor before moving to Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in 2014 as the chair of the Department of Geosciences. He has been dean of FHSU’s Werth College of Science, Technology, and Mathematics since 2018.

Jody Dixon

Jody DixonJody Dixon is the assistant director of international education and global initiatives at AASCU. Prior to working at AASCU, she recruited and advised prospective graduate students for the School of Education at American University in Washington, D.C. She received her M.A. in international training and education from the same institution. Jody also holds a B.Sc. in geography from The University of the West Indies, Mona. Dixon is a native Jamaican who resided in Japan for five years prior to relocating to the U.S. While in Japan, she worked as a TESOL-certified assistant language teacher and teacher trainer in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET). She is an experienced intercultural facilitator and project manager who is particularly skilled in developing and facilitating professional development and education abroad experiences for students, faculty, administrators, and executives. At AASCU, several of the programs she manages include the Japan Studies Institute, the China-U.S. Rising Star Student Study Tour, and the Senior International Officer Institute.

Bucky Dodd

Bucky DoddBucky Dodd is the assistant vice president for education strategy and innovation with LX Studio at the University of Central Oklahoma. Dodd is an innovator, master teacher, and visionary of the future of education. He holds a Ph.D. in education from Oklahoma State University and graduate and undergraduate degrees in adult education and corporate communications and maintains an active research and development agenda in these areas. As a prolific writer, teacher, and speaker on the future of education, his research focuses on visual planning and collaboration systems, innovation, and the design of learning experiences. Dodd is the creator of Learning Environment Modeling®, an award-winning visual collaboration system for the design and evaluation of learning experiences, and has been recognized internationally for his research and design expertise. He has a proven record of leading innovation initiatives in corporate, government, and education organizations and is consistently sought out as a thought leader on the future of learning. 

Kai Drekmeier

Kai DrekmeierKai Drekmeier has made a life commitment to helping others as a leader and innovator in the field of education. At InsideTrack, Drekmeier is responsible for fundraising and establishing new, high-impact programs that support student and organizational success. As a founder of the company, Drekmeier has overseen the growth of InsideTrack from three employees to several hundred and has managed key functions critical to the organization’s success, including coaching method development, performance management, professional development, and recruiting. In 2016, Drekmeier was listed as one of the most innovative people in higher education by the Washington Monthly. Prior to InsideTrack, Drekmeier co-founded SCORE! Educational Centers, where he helped develop the concept and served in a number of key operational roles crucial to the success and growth of the organization. Previously, Drekmeier worked in secondary education and received a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Kaitlin Dumont

Kaitlin DumontAt Kaplan, Kaitlin Dumont partners with innovative university leaders on achieving their strategic growth objectives through Kaplan’s leading-edge portfolio of integrated offerings. Her role specifically focuses on learn-work initiatives and supporting career and work readiness across the learning journey from high school to career professionals. Prior to Kaplan, Kaitlin oversaw executive development programs at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School.

Mildred García

Mildred GarcíaMildred García assumed the presidency of AASCU on January 22, 2018. As AASCU’s president, García is an advocate for public higher education at the national level, working to influence federal policy and regulations on behalf of nearly 400 member colleges and universities; serving as a resource to presidents and chancellors as they address state policy and emerging campus issues; developing collaborative partnerships and initiatives that advance public higher education; directing a strategic agenda that focuses on public college and university leadership for the 21st century; and providing professional development opportunities for presidents, chancellors, and their spouses. She is the first Latina to lead one of the six presidentially based higher education associations in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining AASCU, García served as the president of two minority-serving institutions: California State University (CSU), Fullerton and CSU Dominguez Hills. Before her arrival in the CSU, García served as the CEO of Berkeley College, where she was the first system-wide president for all six campuses. A first-generation college student, García earned a Doctor of Education and an M.A. in higher education administration from Teachers College, Columbia University; an M.A. in business education/higher education from New York University; a B.S. in business education from Baruch College, City University of New York; and an A.A.S. from New York City Community College.

Chaudron Gille

Chaudron Gille Chaudron Gille currently serves as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of North Georgia, a five-campus university of approximately 20,000 students. Gille began her career teaching French and English as a second language. She has experience in the areas of curriculum development, strategic planning, accreditation, international education, distance education, academic advising, student success initiatives, and faculty professional development. She has a Ph.D. in French literature from Emory University and a M.A. in applied linguistics and teaching English as a second language from Georgia State University. Gille currently serves on the advisory board of Atlanta Botanical Gardens-Gainesville, as well as the Strategic Facilities Planning group and the vestry for Grace Episcopal Church, where she serves as junior warden.

John Gillmore

John Gillmore John Gillmore is a senior learning strategy and design consultant at LX Studio, a custom learning experience consulting agency at the University of Central Oklahoma. Gillmore supports LX Studio as a learning consultant and as a research fellow supporting research and development efforts in learning design and learning analytics. In addition, Gillmore provides strategic expertise in creating, developing, and scaling innovations that support learning. Gillmore holds a Ph.D. in the field of higher education leadership and policy studies from Oklahoma State University.

Junius Gonzales

Junius GonzalesAs Montclair State University’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Junius Gonzales leads the university’s programs for teaching, research, scholarship, and creative inquiry and service in ten schools and colleges and is responsible for academic planning, initiatives in teaching and learning, faculty and academic staff development, and the libraries. He has been recognized with numerous awards, including the New York Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Educational Excellence Award and has served on federal agency advisory committees (e.g., Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) and for higher education association committees (e.g., APLU). His research interests include mental health disparities among the Latinx population and non-cognitive factors that influence college student success. He has received $15 million in research funding from sources that include the National Institutes of Health, the CDC, and the Gates Foundation and published more than 50 scholarly papers and book chapters. Gonzales has held high-level leadership roles in academia, federal government, and the private sector. He holds degrees from Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and the University of Maryland.

Peg Gray-Vickrey

Peg Gray-VickreyPeg Gray-Vickrey is the provost and the vice president for academic and student affairs and professor of nursing at Texas A&M University-Central Texas. Prior to this appointment, she served as associate provost and interim provost at Florida Gulf Coast University. Gray-Vickrey is a member of the AASCU Advisory Committee on Academic Innovation and Transformation, the ACE Association of Chief Academic Officers, and the Texas Council of Chief Academic Officers. Gray-Vickrey has been actively involved in civic and community engagement during her career in higher education. She is the immediate past chair of the board of directors for the Greater Killeen Community Clinic and serves on the steering committee of the American Democracy Project. 

Kristine Greer

Kristine GreerKristine Greer serves as associate provost for Fort Lewis College, in addition to her work as a professor in the Department of Teacher Education. Since joining the college in 2005, Greer has developed new programs targeting retention and faculty support in her home department and across the college. She also liaises with student service providers to promote a holistic approach to student support. Greer is a member of several professional associations, including the Colorado State Advisory Council for Parent Involvement, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the International Reading Association, and the Council for Exceptional Children.

Jay Hatcher

Jay Hatcher As group vice president for business development and client management at Wiley University Services, Jay Hatcher leads the team responsible for joining forces with higher education institutions to build long-term strategic partnerships. His goal is to ensure institutions are more effectively attracting, recruiting, engaging, and retaining students while preserving the academic quality and rigor at an institution. Beyond his expertise in the education market, Hatcher has years of experience in the legal profession, where he developed skills that are vital when collaborating with numerous decision-makers. Hatcher earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Mississippi and a Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Deirdre Bucher Heistad

Deirdre Bucher HeistadDeirdre Bucher Heistad has been at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) since 2000 and serves as the executive director of Undergraduate Studies. The Undergraduate Studies division includes the Office of Academic Advising, Community Engagement, Study Abroad, the Office of Academic Advising, Honors and Scholars Programs, UNI Foundational Inquiry (UNIFI) general education, academic assessment, and academic support programs. Heistad has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a DEA degree from Paris IV-Sorbonne, and an M.A. and B.A. from the University of Iowa. 

Lisa Hunter

Lisa HunterLisa R. Hunter is vice president of education at Ad Astra, where she designs and delivers educational content, tools, resources, and best practices to help academic leaders and institutions effectively and efficiently manage the academic enterprise and achieve their student success goals. She also serves in a consulting role at Ad Astra where she uses her extensive experience in higher education as a tenured professor and senior academic administrator to help institutional stakeholders evaluate and improve their student success ecosystem in the areas of infrastructure, pathway health, instructional capacity, enrollment health, course schedule refinement, and financial health. Hunter is an accomplished scholar, educator, speaker, and higher education thought leader. Her areas of expertise include course scheduling, curriculum design, educational assessment, accreditation, academic rigor, general education reform, student success, and leadership in higher education. Outside of Ad Astra, Hunter is a certified wellness coach and 200-hour registered yoga teacher. As owner of Leading Heart Wellness LLC, she helps high-achieving leaders prevent burnout and find solutions to live and lead with heart. 

Susan Jeffords

Susan Jeffords Susan Jeffords joined Portland State University in 2018 as provost and vice president for academic affairs. She served previously in numerous roles at the University of Washington, including department chair, vice provost for global affairs, and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Washington Bothell. Jeffords has written and taught broadly in the area of American popular culture, with an emphasis on Hollywood film, the Vietnam War, and feminism. She is particularly committed to increasing opportunities for more diverse and underrepresented communities to participate actively in higher education, including expanding opportunities for international and community engagement.

Karoline Jimenez

Karoline JimenezKaroline Jimenez is one of the three main subjects of the film Personal Statement. She was also the leader of the Personal Statement film impact campaign and the #WeBelongInCollege campaign. She recently graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a minor in women’s studies, and is working for Strata9 as a student services analyst, leading the student voices campaign #BecauseWeWill.

Christopher Jochum

Christopher JochumChristopher Jochum currently serves as professor and chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Fort Hays State University (FHSU), where he leads one of the largest teacher preparation programs in the state of Kansas. With an enrollment of approximately 1,000 students, his department offers virtual and on-campus degree programs in elementary education, early childhood unified, special education, and secondary education. During his time at FHSU, Jochum has led efforts to support student success, such as implementing high-impact practices and creating new, online programs to enable more people to achieve their goal of becoming public school teachers. His research focuses on leadership development in higher education as well as the preparation and professional development of preservice and in-service foreign language teachers. Jochum’s recent book is titled The Department Chair: A Practical Guide to Effective Leadership.

Jacquelyn Jones

Jacquelyn R. JonesJacquelyn R. Jones is the assistant vice president for student success at AASCU, where she provides strategic vision and leadership for developing and contributing to the student success strategy work in the Center for Student Success and the Frontier Set. Jones also serves as the connection bridge for learning across the segment and up through the Frontier Set network through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, providing support to AASCU and supporting student success nationally. Prior to working at AASCU, Jones worked at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she served as the director of retention initiatives working to increase retention and completion rates, as well as improving the student success platform on campus. She has worked in both academic and student affairs and has extensive experience establishing rapport and cultivating relationships with campus stakeholders. Jones is a first-generation college student and the first in her family to receive a Ph.D. Jones earned her Ph.D. in higher education administration from The University of Toledo (Ohio) and her M.S. in higher education administration and her B.S. in sport and exercise science with a concentration in sports management from The University of Akron (Ohio).

Molly Kerby

Molly Kerby Molly Kerby is the assistant provost for institutional effectiveness and the chief diversity officer for academic affairs at Western Kentucky University. Kerby also holds the rank of professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology and serves as a dissertation advisor in the Ed.D. program. She received undergraduate degrees in sociology and environmental science and an M.S. in public health/environmental health at Western Kentucky University, and completed her Ph.D. in higher education administration at the University of Louisville (Ky.). Kerby’s research focuses primarily on theoretical predictive models of community and organizational change, particularly in areas related to higher education; civic engagement; and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Katie Kinney

Katie KinneyKatie Cole Kinney is the dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of North Alabama. As dean, she provides leadership for the Department of Counselor Education, the Department of Kinesiology, and the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, as well as Kilby Laboratory School and the University of North Alabama Regional Research and Inservice Center. Kinney has been an educator for 24 years in various roles in public P–12 and higher education. She is a professor of elementary education and holds a Ph.D. in instructional leadership from The University of Alabama.

Tania LaViolet

Tania LaViolet Tania LaViolet is a director at the College Excellence Program (CEP) at the Aspen Institute, where she co-leads the management of the American Talent Initiative and CEP’s work on transfer. Prior to joining CEP, LaViolet led best-practice research at the Education Advisory Board, where she published work on timely degree completion and strategic allocation of financial aid to encourage persistence of low-income students. As a Ph.D. student, LaViolet served in one of the tutor cohorts at the Brilliant Club, a British nonprofit that leverages the research community to support young people from underrepresented backgrounds access highly selective universities. LaViolet holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Oxford and graduated with a B.Sc. in biology from Mount Allison University in Canada.

Doug Lederman

Doug LedermanDoug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He helps lead the news organization’s editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs, and other features. Lederman speaks widely about higher education—including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings and on campuses around the country—and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Lederman was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, he had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings.

Sufei Lei

2011 Annual MeetingSufei Lei is the assistant director of China/Asia programs at AASCU, where she oversees China and Asia programs, including the Sino-American CHEPD 1+2+1 Program. This partnership program with the China Center for International Education and Exchanges (CCIEE) provides student exchanges, faculty professional development, and senior administrative training programs for over 160 Chinese institutions and all AASCU member institutions. As a part of AASCU's Office of International Education, she also supports international programs in Japan, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and other areas. Li received a Fulbright Program Scholarship Award for International Education Administrators to Taiwan from the Fulbright Commission and IIE/CIES in March 2019. Prior to joining AASCU, she evaluated foreign educational credentials for university admissions and immigration purposes.

Beth Lesen

Beth Lesen Beth Lesen serves as the vice president for student affairs at California State University, Long Beach. In this role, her portfolio encompasses 40 different departments and programs, including student health services, counseling and psychological services, access services for students with disabilities, basic needs, multicultural affairs, and housing and residential life. She has over 30 years’ experience serving diverse communities in New York, Ohio, and California, with expertise in counseling, behavioral intervention, student risk assessment, and disability services/learning disabilities. Lesen holds a Ph.D. in counseling and school psychology and she is a former faculty member from The City University of New York, where she also served as executive director of access, wellness, and counseling. As a higher education leader, her expertise as a psychologist has positioned her to lead equitable and inclusive strategic priorities centering student mental health as an essential pillar of academic success.

Shannon Looney

Shannon Looney Shannon Looney is a principal and senior consultant of SML Consulting and a consultant with some of AASCU’s academic innovation and transformation student success efforts. She brings over 15 years of experience in higher education research, programming, and strategic planning. Her career experiences span across national research and policy organizations and major higher education associations. Prior to launching her firm, Looney was the deputy executive director of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU), in which she directed the office’s student success initiatives and served as the managing director of USU/APLU staff and their associated initiatives. Her expertise is on student success programming, leadership engagement, and organizational change management efforts with a focus on public four-year universities. She is certified in design thinking through Portland State University (Ore.) and has received additional certification and training in process mapping, equity facilitation, and collective impact theory. 

Justin Mallett

Justin Mallett Justin Mallett is the assistant vice president of diversity and inclusion at Northwest Missouri State University. His goal/passion is to help foster and enhance an inclusive environment where diversity of thought is appreciated. Mallett received his undergraduate and graduate degree in communications from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and he received his doctoral degree from Madison Edgewood College. Mallett is currently a member of the Becoming a Provost Academy and is involved in many diversity and inclusion groups/committees throughout the state of Missouri.

Kaley Martin

Kaley Martin Kaley Martin is a project management specialist in strategic initiatives with the College of Continuing Education (CCE) at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State). Her primary focus is on adult learner re-engagement efforts—advising, re-enrolling, outreaching, and supporting discontinued Sacramento State learners to complete their degree. She leads efforts to address larger administrative and structural barriers that affect adult and returning learners through collaborative leadership and policy/practice change, in addition to re-engaging individual learners through HornetAttain! These efforts include Hornet Debt Reset and a streamlined readmission application. Prior to joining CCE in January 2020, Kaley spent 10 years as a community development consultant, supporting not-for-profits, government agencies, and higher education institutions in project management, program evaluation, strategic planning, and other activities to support systems-level change. She has a master’s degree in applied sociology and is passionate about improving the lives of learners and the community through higher education.

Jeremy Matula

Jeremy MatulaJeremy Matula is a lead engagement executive for the Duolingo English Test. He also serves as the team lead for U.S. Undergraduate and Graduate Higher Ed Engagement. Before joining Duolingo, he was director of client success at Chegg in its Enrollment Services division. His background combines career experience in the education technology and university admissions industries and he is passionate about providing more equitable educational experiences and improving student outcomes.

Pete McCormick

Pete McCormickPete McCormick is associate provost and professor of environment and sustainability at Fort Lewis College. He works in the areas of curriculum development, strategic partnerships, co-curricular innovation, and general education. He is a governor-appointed member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe - State of Colorado Environmental Commission. He has published 20 books, book chapters, articles, and book reviews and is the former book review editor of the American Indian Quarterly.

Megan McFarland

Megan McFarland Megan McFarland is the digital inclusion and universal design coordinator at the Office of Academic Innovation at Portland State University. She earned a B.A. in English composition from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, and an M.Ed. with concentrations in both secondary special education and English language arts from Portland State. After serving as an English learning specialist for Vancouver Public Schools, McFarland was the director and curriculum designer for a national high school leadership education program. Most recently, she worked to build the academic branch of Portland State’s Career and Community Studies Certificate Program for students with intellectual disabilities. She is also currently pursuing an Ed.D. in special education leadership and policy at Portland State.

William McKinney

William McKinney William J. McKinney is the senior advisor for regional campus affairs in Indiana University’s (IU) Office of University Academic Affairs. He leads a number of strategic projects for IU’s five regional campuses, including their joint participation in AASCU’s Re-Imagining the First Year. McKinney has also been senior fellow with the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), and coordinator of the State of Indiana’s LEAP Faculty Collaborative. He has also served on the board of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning since 2012 and served on AASCU’s ADP Steering Committee from 2017 to 2020. Prior to joining IU in 2015, he served as president of Valdosta State University (Ga.). He has also worked at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, and Southeast Missouri State University. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy of science and his M.A. in the history and philosophy of science from IU-Bloomington. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering and his B.A. in history from Bucknell University. He has published or presented well over 100 papers, book chapters, or reviews in such diverse topics as the philosophical nature of scientific experiments, environmental ethics, liberal education, and civic engagement.

Kristin Medlin

Kristin MedlinKristin Medlin oversees Collaboratory’s research and development efforts that support, promote, and enhance the field of study related to community engagement and socially effective impact across all sectors. She works to raise awareness about the value of community engagement data and the imperative to develop a data culture, and helps build systems and structures for data access, analysis, and use. Prior to jumping into the corporate sector, Medlin served as the communications and partnerships manager in the Institute for Community and Economic Engagement at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro. Medlin’s scholarly work explores technology-assisted engagement, cross-sector partnerships, and tracking and assessment of community engagement. Medlin holds master’s degrees from UNC Greensboro in public affairs and in educational research, assessment, and evaluation.

Kim Middleton

Kim MiddletonKim Middleton is an academic strategist at the Association of College and University Education. Her almost 20-year career in higher education has focused on experimental, high-impact teaching practices and environments that create transformative learning for both students and faculty. As a professor, administrator, and scholar, Middleton has attended to the core values of liberal education and identified new approaches to foreground their enduring relevance. Middleton founded the Center for Academic Innovation and Creativity at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles—a federally-designated Hispanic-serving institution, primarily for women. In that role, she designed and implemented a portfolio of professional development opportunities and pilot programs to support both faculty interests and institutional strategic initiatives. In addition, she was principal investigator for two W.M. Keck Foundation undergraduate education grants. Prior to her work at Mount Saint Mary’s, Middleton served in a variety of roles at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. She also co-founded the college’s first faculty development program. Middleton earned a B.A. in literature, language theory, and the creation of meaning from the experimental Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands. She holds a M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Notre Dame.

Kristin Moser

Kristin MoserKristin Moser is assistant to the president and director of institutional effectiveness and planning at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). She works closely with senior leaders on campus to provide data for decision support. She has created a network of data users and experts across campus at all levels, working to build understanding and campuswide buy-in, with transparency and data ethics front and center in her work. She has a Ph.D. from Iowa State University, an M.A. from Northern Arizona University, and a B.A. from UNI.

Carolyn Muller

Carolyn MullerCarolyn Muller is the director of business development and client success at LX Studio at the University of Central Oklahoma. Muller provides strategic leadership and business development for LX Studio, including client acquisition, design efforts, and project oversight for all client programs. She has a business degree in marketing from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., and has successfully managed programs for such companies as HSN, Cox Target Media, and the Affinion Group.

Lindsey Myers

Lindsey MyersLindsey P. Myers is the director of the Learner Success Lab at the American Council on Education (ACE). In this role, she leads efforts to develop a program that will guide institutions through a strategic planning process to maximize student persistence and completion and ensure that learners acquire the skills necessary for success in today’s workforce. Myers brings extensive teaching, research, and higher education leadership experience to her work with ACE. She teaches sociology and interdisciplinary courses in a variety of institutional settings (public and private, two-year and four-year, selective and open-enrollment, research and teaching-focused) and instructional formats (face-to-face, hybrid, online, accelerated). Her research touches on a number of social institutions and how they intersect, including education, the criminal justice system, and the labor market. Myers has also held positions in higher education administration, where she was responsible for evaluating credit programming, institutional research, and academic and co-curricular assessment. A first-generation college graduate, Myers earned her Ph.D. in sociology from The Ohio State University, as well as an MBA in marketing and a B.S. in sociology, both from York College of Pennsylvania.

Jack Nelson

Jack NelsonJack Nelson’s experience includes multiple university admissions roles at Hofstra University in New York, sales at North America’s two largest international credential evaluation companies (WES and ECE), and now university partnerships at ReUp Education, which uses patented tech and human-centered coaching to serve stopped-out students. He led and developed conference workshops on credential evaluation, credit articulation, and successful communication in higher education.

Elise Newkirk-Kotfila

Elise Newkirk-KotfilaElise Newkirk-Kotfila has held multiple leadership roles in state, regional, national, and international organizations, including as a founding member of AASCU’s American Democracy Project and chairing AASCU’s International Committee.

Sarah Wolf Newlands

Sarah Wolf NewlandsSarah Wolf Newlands, an associate professor and associate executive director of university studies at Portland State University, is an artist who has been actively involved in museum education since she began giving tours at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in the mid-1990s. Newlands’ students at Portland State University collaborate with local schools and museums (Portland Art Museum, Childpeace Montessori School, The Museum of Contemporary Craft, and The Portland Classical Chinese Garden). Students who work on these community-based learning projects design and lead tours, and create videos, blogs, and visual and time-based art. Newlands received an M.F.A. from Portland State University and a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her own artwork brings together the language of formal abstraction with commonplace everyday things, using repetition and process as methods of transformation.

Cheryl Nixon

Cheryl Nixon Cheryl Nixon serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Fort Lewis College (FLC) in Colorado, a position she started in July 2019. Prior to arriving at FLC, she served as associate provost at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she held previous roles as chair of the Department of English and English graduate program director. Her career has been dedicated to serving diverse students by developing programming that features experiential learning, cohort-based projects, and community collaborations. She has overseen student projects featuring partnerships with the Boston Public Library, Boston Harbor Islands National Park, and Boston Mayor’s Office. Her research focuses on the invention of the novel in the 18th century, and her books and articles compare the early novel’s representation of the family to manuscript legal cases. She earned her B.A. in English and political science from Tufts University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Harvard University.

Felice Nudelman

Felice NudelmanIn February 2021, Felice Nudelman assumed the role of associate vice president of academic innovation and transformation at AASCU. Nudelman originally came to AASCU in January 2019 as the executive director of the American Democracy Project (ADP), which supports member campuses in programming to encourage students to be informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. In 2003, while working at The New York Times, Nudelman partnered with George Mehaffy and a group of AASCU provosts in creating ADP. Prior to assuming her role at AASCU, Nudelman served most recently as the executive vice president of the Weiss Institute/Say Yes to Education, which brings together the best thinking, latest research, and tested strategies for the benefit of communities seeking to make it possible for all young people to earn a college degree or other postsecondary credential. Before her work at the Weiss Institute, Nudelman served as the chancellor of Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio, from 2011 to 2016—a period in which the university built a new campus in Seattle and added an array of online programs. She subsequently served Antioch as chief global officer for innovation and partnerships.

Peter Nwosu

Peter Nwosu American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow and Fulbright Scholar Peter Nwosu started his tenure in 2019 as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and student success at the Herbert H. Lehman College, a Hispanic and Minority Serving Institution and a senior college of the 25-member colleges of the City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s largest urban public university system. Prior to this role, he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Clark Atlanta University (CAU), a private HBCU, and associate vice president for academic programs and accreditation liaison officer at California State University, Fullerton, a Hispanic Serving Institution. Nwosu began his career at California State University, Sacramento, rising through the ranks to become tenured full professor of Communication Studies. A nationally recognized teacher-scholar of intercultural and international communication, Nwosu has served as journal editor, presented at regional, national, and international conferences, and authored/co-authored more than 90 scholarly writings, including three books, journal papers, book chapters, and training manuals. A graduate of the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education, he earned his Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Howard University. Nwosu serves as Principal Investigator for the NYC Louis Stokes Alliance involving 12 CUNY colleges funded by the National Science Foundation, as well as co-director of the CUNY Leadership Institute funded by the Mellon Foundation. He also chairs the board of directors of the CUNY Mexican Studies Institute and the CUNY Institute for Health Equity. In addition, he serves as a member and secretary to the board of directors of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and sits on the advisory boards of the AASCU Committee on Academic Innovation and Transformation, the national Association of Chief Academic Officers, and the Sacramento-based California Urban Partnership (CUP).

Amber Paulk

Amber PaulkAmber Paulk is the vice provost for academic affairs and dean of graduate and online education at the University of North Alabama (UNA), where she is responsible for providing leadership and strategic oversight to university units and programs that focus on recruitment, retention, and career placement. Paulk has served in a variety of administrative roles at UNA, including department chair, assistant to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and director of strategic initiatives and specialist projects for the Office of Academic Affairs. Paulk is a professor of sociology and earned her Ph.D. from Auburn University (Ala.).

Patrick Pease

Patrick PeaseAs associate provost for academic affairs and professor of geography at the University of Northern Iowa, Patrick Pease knows the importance of using data to inform practice and policy decisions. He brings a wealth of experience utilizing data and dashboards as a senior leader on campus. He has a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and an M.A. and B.A. from Indiana State University.

Emily Pettit

Emily Pettit Emily Pettit has served on the student affairs frontline for 25 years at two- and four-year, public and private institutions, most recently as the chief student affairs officer and Title IX coordinator at a university in Georgia. With degrees in counseling and instructional design, she has enjoyed developing and implementing initiatives supporting student success with a keen eye toward wellness and retention. As the new vice president of strategic partnerships at the Virtual Care Group, she shifts her care and concern for students from the micro level (on campus) to the macro level (supporting colleges nationally) to focus on the well-being of ALL college students. 

Tanjula Petty

Tanjula PettyTanjula Petty is an experienced administrator who leads policy development and inspires change through collaborative leadership and data-driven decision-making. She has an Ed.D. in educational leadership, policy, and law from Alabama State University and an M.S. in public administration and a B.S. in resource management, both from Troy University (Ala.). Petty is considered a scholar-practitioner and possesses a wealth of experience in accreditation, academic affairs, student services, diversity, enrollment management, institutional effectiveness and research, fiscal accountability, facilities planning, public relations, strategic planning, and workforce development/career and technical education. She has presented nationally on assessment, disadvantaged and first-generation students, retention, campus collaboration, and improving campus cultures. She authored the book chapters, “A Challenge to Higher Education Leaders in the Wake of a Social Injustice Crisis” and “Leading in the Midst of a Crisis,” for Magna Publications and is published in the College Student Journal and the National Teacher Education Journal. She is on the advisory board of Leadership in Higher Education and an evaluator for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Clarenda Phillips

Clarenda M. PhillipsClarenda M. Phillips is the provost/vice president for academic affairs and professor of sociology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She also served as provost/vice president for academic affairs and student life at Notre Dame of Maryland University, which has the only women’s college in the state of Maryland. During her tenure at Morehead State University (Ky.), Phillips held several positions, including associate vice president of academic affairs, director of the Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies Program, and chair of the sociology, social work, and criminology department. Her teaching and research have focused on the intersectionality of race, gender, and class and the sociology of mental health. She earned her bachelor’s degree from DePauw University, her master’s degree and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and her M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary.

Samantha Raynor

SamRaynor Samantha Raynor is a member of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s (UNCG) student success leadership team. She is responsible for managing the communities of practice in which UNCG is a member, managing and piloting student success projects, delivering professional development to academic advisors, and serving as a conduit between the Division of Student Success and other campus partners. She is an expert in student success theory, development, and interventions for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students. She received her Doctorate of Education in higher education administration from The George Washington University.

Robert Reason

Robert ReasonRobert D. Reason is professor of higher education and student affairs in the School of Education (SOE) at Iowa State University. He currently serves as the associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs in the College of Human Science. He previously served as associate director of the SOE for research and administration. Prior to joining the faculty at Iowa State in 2011, Reason was on the faculty at Pennsylvania State University, where he was also a senior scientist in the Center for the Study of Higher Education. Reason has a Ph.D. in higher education from Iowa State University. He also holds degrees from Minnesota State University, Mankato and Grinnell College.

Markya Reed

Markya ReedMarkya Reed is a graduate assistant with the Center for Democracy and Civic Life at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), pursuing a master's degree in applied sociology. She supports the center’s immersive experience, workshops, and programs. Reed hopes to foster opportunities for cross-sector collaboration and create environments that allow members of the UMBC community to come together and create positive change both on and off campus. As an undergraduate, Reed led Alternative Spring Break programs related to food security and homelessness in Baltimore City and served as a coach for UMBC’s immersive leadership for social impact program. She also served as a senator and vice president of UMBC’s Student Government Association. Reed currently serves as a Peaceworker fellow through the Shriver Center and has worked extensively with immigrant youth and families in Baltimore City. She served as a youth development promoter with Peace Corps, Costa Rica, and is dedicated to positive youth development and empowerment.

Xinyue Ren

Xinyue Ren Xinyue Ren is an instructional designer for the Auburn University at Montgomery College of Business. She earned her doctorate in instructional technology and a master’s degree in critical studies in education at Ohio University. Her research interests include course design and emerging technologies to improve educational equity in higher education. In the past few years, she has conducted research on the role of instructional designers in promoting the open educational resource (OER) movement and participated in an alternative textbook initiative to advocate the use of OERs in higher education.

Melissa Rivas

Melissa RivasMelissa Rivas is the director of student success and coaching at AASCU. She previously served as associate director for the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities at APLU, where she had worked since 2018 supporting the success of low-income, minoritized, first-generation, and transfer students. She has previous experience in higher education, including work at Excelencia. She has worked directly with first-generation, low-income students of color in San Francisco and Oakland, California. At uAspire, she helped students navigate the complicated financial aid process, guiding students through the FAFSA, CA Dream Act, CSS Profile verification forms, and more. She earned a master’s degree in higher education student affairs and international education policy at the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in education from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Steven Robbins

Steven RobbinsSteven B. Robbins is principal research scientist at ETS. Prior to joining ETS, Robbins was vice president for research at ACT and former professor and chair of the psychology department at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received his B.A. in psychology from the University of Illinois, his Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Utah, and in 1992 was elected fellow of the American Psychological Association. Robbins is a leading social scientist in his field, publishing more than 150 refereed articles and technical reports, and a leading student success expert, co-authoring Increasing Persistence: Research-Based Strategies for College Student Success (Wiley, 2012). His research employs a psychological perspective on human and social capital in understanding education and career success. He promotes evidence-based assessment and intervention practices that help underserved learners bridge education and work.

Christine Rodriguez

Christine Rodriguez During her junior and senior years in high school, Christine Rodriguez worked as a peer college counselor. Her experience helping her peers navigate the college and financial aid application process was chronicled in the Emmy-nominated film, "Personal Statement." Since her freshman year in high school, she worked as a youth organizer with Make The Road New York and the Urban Youth Collaborative. During her senior year in high school, she was appointed to serve on a mayoral task force for school reform. Rodriguez enrolled at the Eugene Lang College at The New School in the fall of 2015 after graduating from the Bushwick School for Social Justice. She continued to work in her high school as a college bridge counselor throughout college, only taking a brief break to study abroad in Cuba. Christine graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies in 2019. Since the release of the film, "Personal Statement," Christine has helped to lead the film’s impact campaign, traveling and speaking to audiences throughout the country.

Jason Schaffer

Jason SchafferJason Schaffer is the universal design for learning student assistant at the Office of Academic Innovation at Portland State University. In his role, he gives user feedback on various virtual platforms from a cognitive accessibility perspective. Schaffer also prepares and co-leads workshops with the digital inclusion and universal design coordinator, providing a critical student perspective on inclusive course design. He is a second-year student in the Career and Community Studies Certificate Program for students who experience intellectual disabilities, ultimately hoping to pursue a career in social work and disability advocacy.

Lars Söderlund

Lars Söderlund Lars Söderlund is the chair of the English studies department and associate professor of English at Western Oregon University. His research focuses on the techniques and strategies of academic publication and research, and his co-edited collection Research on Faculty Writing Practices in Rhetoric and Composition is under contract with WAC Clearinghouse. He has taught students at the university level for 18 years and has been nominated for teaching and advising awards at the University of South Carolina, Purdue University (Ind.), and Western Oregon University.

Kia Sorensen

Kia SorensenKia Sorensen serves as the interim deputy director of Private Postsecondary Education (PPS) and also leads math pathways policy for community colleges and public universities for the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). In her capacity as the Interim PPS deputy director, Sorensen manages and provides strategic oversight for the Office of Degree Authorization and the Office of Private Career Schools. Sorensen’s math pathways responsibilities include development, coordination, and oversight. Prior to becoming the interim deputy director, Sorensen was an academic policy specialist in the Office of Academic Policy and Authorization at the HECC, where she led work on postsecondary transfer and articulation, as well as math education reform. Sorensen also has a background in research and teaching. Her research focuses on the intersection of education, policy, and family and has been published in Research in Higher Education, The Future of Children, and Early Childhood Research Quarterly. Sorensen received her B.A. in sociology and interdisciplinary visual arts from the University of Washington and an M.S. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her spare time, Sorensen serves on the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon Communities United Fund board.

Costas Spirou

Costas SpirouCostas Spirou serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs and professor of sociology and public administration at Georgia College & State University. Previously, he was senior associate provost for academic affairs and director of the university’s graduate school. In 2017, Spirou was named a fellow by the American Council of Education. Spirou is the author of Anchoring Innovation Districts: The Entrepreneurial University and Urban Change, Building the City of Spectacle: Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Remaking of Chicago (with D. Judd) published by Cornell University Press in 2016, Urban Tourism and Urban Change: Cities in a Global Economy (Routledge, 2011), St. Charles: Culture and Leisure in an All-American Town (Arcadia, 2005), which received an Award of Merit by the Illinois Association of Museums, and It’s Hardly Sportin’: Stadiums, Neighborhoods and the New Chicago.

Yolanda Watson Spiva

YOLANDA WATSON SPIVA,Yolanda Watson Spiva is the president of Complete College America (CCA), a bold national advocate for dramatically increasing college completion rates and closing equity gaps by working with states, systems, institutions, and partners to scale highly effective structural reforms and promote policies that improve student success. Her more than 25-year career in postsecondary education spans a range of executive leadership, general management, federal government, public affairs, operations, and academic officer positions. Yolanda is the former president and CEO of College Success Foundation (CSF), a national non-profit college readiness, access, success, and scholarship organization. She has also held various positions with the U.S. Department of Education and was awarded the prestigious Turknett Leadership Character Award for outstanding leadership in the nonprofit sector. Yolanda earned her undergraduate degree in economics from Spelman College (Ga.), her master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago, and her doctorate in higher education from Georgia State University.

Ann-Marie Stephenson

Ann-Marie Stephenson Ann-Marie Stephenson is the senior director of business development for Global Higher Education (GHE) at ETS, leading one of the company’s three strategic pillars: the division overseeing and devising market growth and expansion strategies within the U.S.; Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); China; India; and Asia. Stephenson continually works to strengthen ETS’s client network by establishing and directing ongoing engagement with GHE councils as well as forging strategic partnerships with organizations, industry stakeholders, and graduate and professional schools with active agendas in supporting the evolving needs of the learner. She remains committed to the corporate mission by ensuring a keen focus is taken to increase access, equity, and inclusion for all. Stephenson has spent over 20 years at ETS in various leadership roles spanning K–12 and higher education. She holds a B.S. in marketing from The College of New Jersey and both an MBA and M.S. in higher education assessment, analytics, and change management from Rider University. 

Gretel Stock

Gretel StockGretel Stock is dean of University College at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She manages a dynamic organization that provides coordinated experiences, services, resources, and opportunities that foster student success. Stock received a master’s in library science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a master’s in management and organizational behavior and a doctorate in organization development, both from Benedictine University. Previously, she was the executive director of academic affairs and the library at Viterbo University. She has also worked in other academic, association, and corporate settings.

Domanic Thomas

Domanic ThomasDomanic Thomas serves as vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment at Washington State University Vancouver. With more than 20 years of leadership in student affairs, he has an extensive portfolio that includes a wide variety of student service and recruitment areas. He is responsible for the holistic development of students, providing programs and services that empower them to realize their educational goals. Thomas earned a Bachelor of Science in General Science from Oregon State University, a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Arizona, and a Doctor of Education in Postsecondary Education from Portland State University. 

Erika Thompson

Erika Thompson Erika Thompson is the director of the Grants Resource Center (GRC), a premium service of AASCU. Thompson’s tenure at GRC began in 2003 as a staff associate and she moved up the ranks over the years. Thompson’s vast knowledge of GRC services and its members aids her in developing GRC’s continued success with helping sponsored researchers stay competitive in an ever-changing grants landscape. Thompson directs a small staff and oversees strategic initiatives, coordination of member support, and management of office workflow. Additionally, Thompson represents GRC at professional meetings and planning activities. Prior to joining GRC, Thompson worked for various nonprofit organizations that focus on education and as a high school English teacher in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Thompson received a B.A. in English education from University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) and an M.P.A. from Bowie State University (Md.). When not at GRC, Thompson enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, and serving the community with the Metropolitan Washington Ear, UMES alumni association, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Gabriela Torres

Gabriela Torres Gabriela Torres is a senior program officer on the Postsecondary Success Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Torres supports a number of partners related to the foundation’s Intermediaries for Scale strategy. Intermediaries for Scale recognize that postsecondary success is crucial to economic and social mobility, and that it is not acceptable that some students—especially Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and low-income students—face specific and systemic barriers that prevent them from realizing the full value of postsecondary education. Prior to her time at the foundation, she’s held roles including assistant director of campus life for multicultural and leadership programs at Saint Xavier University, Latino knowledge community representative for NASPA, and graduate research assistant in the Office of Evaluation and Educational Effectiveness at Arizona State University and senior director of postsecondary support at OneGoal, the nation’s only teacher-led college persistence organization. Torres holds a master’s degree in higher and postsecondary education from Arizona State University and a B.A. in Hispanic studies from Boston College.

Eugene Van Sickle

Eugene VanSickle!Eugene Van Sickle is the associate provost for undergraduate programs at the University of North Georgia. He is responsible for coordinating institutional strategies related to Complete College Georgia, institution-wide student success efforts, and undergraduate curriculum development. Prior to joining academic affairs, he was a member of the faculty and served as associate department head of history, anthropology, and philosophy on the Dahlonega Campus. He earned his Ph.D. in history from West Virginia University.

Shanta Goswami Varma

Shanta Goswami VarmaShanta Goswami Varma is a tenured associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology in the College of Education and special advisor to the chancellor for distance education and collaborative partnership at Auburn University at Montgomery. She has over 20 years of experience in national and international higher education. At the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, which is now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, she established various academic partnerships with graduate and research institutions. Her experiences in India, at SUNY Empire State College, and at University at Houston-Clear Lake, along with her previous positions, brought her close to her passion (i.e., teaching, making education accessible, scalable, and affordable through distance education). Varma’s areas of research interest and expertise include e-learning, online teaching, partnership building, program development and implementation, marketing and outreach, faculty training and development, regulatory and accreditation requirements, open educational resources, curriculum and instruction, recruitment, and retention.

Mary Wall

Mary WallMary Wall is the director of the American College Student Panel™ at College Pulse—the leading research and analytics company focused on today’s college students. In this role, Wall has collected over 115 million survey responses from over 550,000 students and recent graduates from 1,500 universities in the U.S. College Pulse uses this data to help universities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations better understand and connect with American college students. Wall graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and she currently resides in Salt Lake City with her partner and cat, who are, in fact, two separate individuals. Topics she would be happy to talk to you about include (1) anything to do with college students, (2) true crime podcasts, and (3) pop culture. 

John Patrick Walsh

John Patrick WalshJohn Patrick Walsh, AASCU’s director of federal relations and policy analysis, is an experienced director with a demonstrated history of working in the government administration industry. He is a strong professional skilled in government relations, policy analysis, community outreach, and public relations.

Nyala Watkins

Nyala WatkinsNyala Watkins is the program manager for student success for AASCU’s Academic Innovation and Transformation Division. She has worked with the Re-Imagining the First Year of College (RFY) and Frontier Set (FS) initiatives. Prior to this role, Watkins was the senior program advisor for AASCU’s Grants Resource Center. She also has experience in working with community colleges through her work at a regional admissions counselor for the ed-tech company Quad Learning. Her career in education started when she started teaching adult-learners in Thailand, after earning her TESOL certification in Cambodia. She earned her B.A. in sociology and speech communication from Syracuse University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in data analytics from the University of Maryland Global Campus. 

Melissa Welker

Melissa WelkerMelissa A. Welker earned a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in marketing at University of Northern Colorado and a master’s in education with an emphasis in counseling/student affairs from Northern Arizona University. Since 2001, she has served in different positions within higher education institutions and is passionate about assisting educational institutions in transforming to serve the students of today. Welker is passionate about the connection between social justice and education, which grounds her work in advocating for students to have the best opportunities for learning and growth, both within higher education and in the community she lives. She currently works at AASCU as the director of student success and advising partnerships, where she coaches institutions in transformational and equity work and leads AASCU’s work in the Advising Success Network. 

Julie Whitlow

Julie WhitlowJulie Whitlow is the vice provost for faculty and global engagement at Salem State University. She has her doctorate in applied linguistics and has long worked with international students. For over two decades she was a professor in the English department at Salem State, where she also coordinated the Master of Arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages. She strongly believes that international education and exchange is the most powerful way to create meaningful cross-cultural understanding. Whitlow has been a Fulbright scholar in Nicaragua, an Erasmus+ visiting lecturer in Poland, a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, and a Whiting fellow in China. She is currently directing an IDEAS grant from the U.S. State Department and a Partners of the Americas grant. Both provide opportunities for Salem State students to experience the world. 

Kristin Woods

Kristin WoodsKristin Woods is currently the senior associate vice president for enrollment management and student success at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Woods’ professional experience in higher education has included orientation and new student programs, student success and retention initiatives, co-curricular assessment, and academic and career services. She holds her Ph.D. from Iowa State University, M.A. from Bowling Green State University (Ohio), and B.A. from UNI.

Madam Yang Xinyu

Madam Yang XinyuYang Xinyu took the position of minister counselor for education of the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. in October 2018 after serving four years in the same position at the Chinese Embassy in Canada. She was the deputy secretary-general of China Scholarship Council, a national organization to provide funding for students and faculty mobility for 11 years starting in 2003. She received a Certificate of Recognition from Global Affairs Canada for her contribution to advancing Canada-China international education initiatives and programs. She has also been a guest speaker at several international education conferences.

Jeremy C. Young

Jeremy C. YoungJeremy C. Young is the senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America, where he leads the organization’s advocacy work against educational gag orders and for academic freedom in higher education. A former history professor, he holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Indiana University and is the author of The Age of Charisma: Leaders, Followers, and Emotions in American Society, 1870-1940 (Cambridge University Press, 2017). 

Damian Zavala

Damian Zavala Damian Zavala is the associate vice president of health and wellness at California State University, Long Beach. In this role, he is responsible for providing leadership for campus-wide health equity, mental health promotion, and inclusive well-being initiatives to increase students’ access to culturally sensitive health care and to enhance the quality of campus life for all students. Damian is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in California with many years of clinical practice experience, as well as high-level leadership experience in health care and behavioral health. He is a proud product of the California State University System with master’s degrees in social work, with an emphasis in health, mental health, and public administration.

Chunsheng Zhang

Chunsheng ZhangChunsheng Zhang has served as the senior vice provost for international affairs and professor of education at the University of North Alabama since spring 2009. He is responsible for providing institutional leadership for the university’s internationalization planning and implementation and managing the Office of International Affairs, which includes International Recruitment and Admissions, International Student and Scholar Services, Study Abroad and Exchange Programs, the English as a Second Language Program, and the Center for Global Engagement. With over 20 years of work experiences at four different universities, Zhang is a seasoned senior international officer with broad knowledge and experiences in advancing internationalization initiatives, including fundraising and grant writing to support study abroad, international recruitment, and faculty/staff international development. He is a long-time member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), and other international education organizations. He served on the board of directors for NAFSA and the executive committee for AIEA. He was elected as member of the American International Recruitment Council Certification Commission in 2017.

Ashley Zohn

Ashley ZohnAshley Zohn is the vice president, learning and impact, for the Knight Foundation. She has more than a decade of experience advancing data-driven decision-making in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors and oversees the foundation’s research and assessment portfolios. Prior to joining the Knight Foundation in 2019, she oversaw the Continuous Improvement Program (CIP) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In this capacity, she was responsible for reviewing the agency’s responses following federally declared disasters and building continuous improvement capacity at FEMA’s disaster operations. In other roles at FEMA, she oversaw a research portfolio of internal research and analysis projects, including the FEMAStat program. She also worked in community outreach at the American Red Cross. Ashley began her career in marketing science and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Princeton University, a Master of Business Administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is a native of Miami.



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