Mr. Tony Blair was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1997 and 2007. As Prime Minister, he maintained that Britain’s top priority was — and will continue to be — education. Mr. Blair declared that higher education was central to Britain’s future, and that responsible political leaders had a duty to see it thrive. He led the Labour Party in establishing reforms in 2004 that would restructure higher education funding to sustain a world-class university system. His aggressive reforms, which he characterized as a matter of both social justice and national prosperity, made it possible for millions to obtain a higher education.
Veteran educator, Dr. Walter Bumphus has spent more than three decades in influential positions in education, including college president, system chancellor, and, most recently, chairman of the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Bumphus currently serves as president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), an organization representing more than 1,200 two-year, associate degree institutions, 11 million students, and a growing number of international members. Through this position, he is a champion for student access, retention, and graduation. Dr. Bumphus has extensive knowledge and experience in student development, total quality management, technology in student services, marketing and recruitment, and instructional strategies for high-risk students.
As Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, Jeb Bush established himself as one of the foremost state educational leaders. He became nationally recognized for his firm, hands-on approach to transforming Florida’s public education system through comprehensive policies like A+. Governor Bush established the Foundation for Excellence in Education in 2007 to “ignite a movement of reform state-by-state in order to transform education for the 21st-century.” Through the Foundation, a number of programs ranging from improved instruction to data-driven accountability provide a roadmap that states use in implementing educational reform. Governor Bush has been a continuing advocate for improving the successful integration of Hispanic students into the American educational system, as well as the use of technology to build adaptive teaching and learning tools effective for all students.
Dr. Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School, is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading thinkers on innovation. His research has been applied to national economies, Fortune 50 companies, and to postsecondary education in America. His seminal book The Innovator’s Dilemma outlined his disruptive innovation frameworks and was a New York Times bestseller, ultimately translated into 25 different languages. Dr. Christensen is a four-time recipient of the McKinsey Award for the Harvard Business Review’s best article. In 2008, he founded Innosight Institute, a non-profit think tank to further examine and apply his frameworks. In Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education, he and his colleagues offer an analysis of the current challenges to higher education and a powerful set of insights that provide “a language that allows people to come together to frame these challenges in ways that will create a much higher chance of success.”
Francis Cigarroa has served as the 10th chancellor of The University of Texas System since February 2009. As chancellor, Dr. Cigarroa oversees one of the largest higher education systems in the nation, with nine universities and six health institutions with a collective enrollment of over 200,000 students. Prior to becoming Chancellor of the UT System, he was president of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. A strong advocate for transparency and accountability, Dr. Cigarroa has wedded those attributes to create a framework for excellence that ensures that Texas students have access to affordable, high quality undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare them for an ever changing world. His initiatives have also embraced the vast potential of technology to increase access and enhance student learning.
Dr. Michael Crow has served as President of Arizona State University (ASU) since 2002. Dr. Crow maintains that lack of investment in access to public universities will lead to complacency and failure both for the universities and the nation. Under his leadership, ASU is trailblazing new trends in institutional outreach to achieve greater student inclusivity. Dr. Crow is building ASU as a prototype for the New American University, which must be competitive in attracting talent nationally and internationally. According to Crow, the New American University will not be defined by research or instruction, but by embracing the idea of perpetual innovation. Dr. Crow has become globally recognized for his desire to revolutionize higher education through technology, flexibility, and increased engagement.
Arne Duncan has served as the U.S. Secretary of Education since January 2009. Prior to his appointment as Secretary, he was chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s 3rd-largest school district. While CEO he successfully raised education standards, improved teacher and principal quality, increased learning options, and improved student performance across the district. In three years as secretary of education, he has enthusiastically led efforts to achieve President Obama’s ambitious goal for substantially increasing the number of individuals holding college degrees. Through one of his initiatives, Race to the Top competition, states compete for federal education dollars that can be used, in part, on college readiness and career preparedness, his lifelong passion.
Dr. Richard Ferguson was CEO of ACT, the premier non-profit educational testing and research organization, from 1988 to 2010. Following his 38-year career at ACT, Dr. Ferguson joined Academic Partnerships, a Dallas-based company committed to helping the nation’s state universities to increase access by utilizing technology-based delivery of higher education instruction. During his years at ACT, Dr. Ferguson presided over the development of research-based college readiness and workforce programs that are used annually by millions of individuals and thousands of educational institutions, agencies, and corporations. His long career in education has included faculty appointments in the graduate colleges of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Iowa.
Mr. John Howard, the second-longest serving Prime Minister of Australia, served 11 consecutive years from 1996 to 2007. Mr. Howard promoted choice, quality, and diversity in Australia’s education system. Under his leadership, higher education became the No. 1 service export for the country. In 2007, he said that Australia needed to work hard to retain and attract the best and the brightest in the “global war for talent,” since no country knew where the best jobs would be in 10 to 20 years. Australia has become the third leading exporter, after the United States and United Kingdom, of higher education with more than 400,000 international students studying in Australia in 2011 and many thousands more enrolled in offshore programs.
Governor Jim Hunt served as Governor of North Carolina from 1977 to 1985 and again from 1993 to 2001, and became the longest-serving governor in the state’s history. He established the Smart Start Program in 1993, a non-profit public/private partnership rooted in each of the state’s 100 counties that provides high-quality child care, health care, and family support. Governor Hunt is an educational visionary respected by both parties for his unprecedented commitment to improving the quality and accessibility of American education. He continues to be a leading statesman in his personal devotion to this effort. In 2001, the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy was founded as an agency of the University of North Carolina in recognition of his legacy. Through the Institute, Governor Hunt collaborates with state and national policymakers and leaders to secure America’s future through quality K-12 and higher education.
Martha Kanter currently serves as Under Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education where she oversees policies, programs, and activities related to postsecondary education, adult, and career-technical information and student aid. She is currently leading efforts to advance President Obama’s goal for the U.S. to have “the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world by 2020” as measured by the percentage of individuals possessing college degrees. Kanter and her associates are working closely with postsecondary partners across the country to identify and advance initiatives that will boost American innovation and competitiveness. Her personal commitment to increasing student access to and success in higher education is evident in her unrelenting advocacy for federal efforts aimed at increasing the number of students receiving student aid, improving teacher quality, and modernizing career-technical education.
Mr. Sal Khan is the celebrated creator of the Khan Academy. In 2004, Mr. Khan developed lessons to help his cousins learn math. With funding from the Gates Foundation and the Google Foundation, the popular Sal Khan lessons moved to YouTube and the Sal Khan Academy was born, making his instruction universally accessible. The Khan Academy lessons provide free, quality online instruction, which enables anyone to learn from anywhere in the world. Mr. Khan’s influential vision and not-for-profit academy serve as an inspiration and prototype of how curriculum and instructional access are being reshaped through online learning. The Khan Academy has more than 2,200 tutorials, with more than 100,000 people viewing these lessons each day.
Dr. Steve Murdock has had a long and distinguished career in higher education, having held faculty positions at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is currently Allyn R. and Gladys M. Cline Professor of Sociology at Rice University. From 2007 to 2009, Dr. Murdock served as Director of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, a role that followed an earlier appointment as State Demographer of Texas. He is an internationally recognized scholar and prolific author of books and articles on the implications of current and future demographic and socioeconomic change.
Michael Wesch is an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University. His work includes media ecology and digital ethnography, through which he studies the effects of new media on human interaction. Through his use of video, including the highly popular “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us” and “A Vision of Students Today,” Wesch is pursuing the possibilities for digital media to transform the manner in which ethnographies are presented. He has applied his research in the college classroom, where he has received numerous awards for innovative teaching techniques. His work includes collaboration in a project with the Educause Center for Applied Research on its “The Tower and the Cloud” project, which is considering how higher education institutions (The Tower) can interoperate with the emerging network-based business and social paradigm (The Cloud).
Dr. Belle Wheelan’s educational career spans 37 years and includes roles as provost, community college president, and state secretary of education at the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since 2002, Dr. Wheelan has served as the President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS), one of six regional accrediting agencies in the country. Dr. Wheelan has provided national leadership in the dialogue on accreditation policy, and she has supported increased access to higher education through alternative instructional delivery models. She continues to encourage the expansion of access, nationally and internationally, in order to reach a larger segment of society.
Ralph Wolff is President of the Senior College Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), a role he assumed in 1996. Prior to joining WASC, he founded and directed the Institute for Creative Thinking, which focused on leadership and change, an emphasis that has carried over to his work at WASC. During his term as president, he has led WASC to the forefront of accreditation as an agent of accountability and innovation by transforming the accreditation process to an outcomes and learning based model. His current efforts at the Commission include a redesign of the accreditation process that focuses on retention and graduation, defining degree outcomes more clearly, and opening the accreditation process to greater transparency.