Making the LEAP to Digital: What It Can Mean for Quality AND for Equity


Thursday–Friday, January 21–22, 2016
Grand Hyatt Hotel, Washington, DC

AAC&U thanks LiveText for its support of the 2016 Presidents’ Forum


Forum Chair: Edward Ray, President, Oregon State University and Chair, AAC&U Board of Directors



THURSDAY,  January 21, 2016

1:00–1:45pm Plenary Session

Unleashing the Potential:
Liberal Learning, Inclusive Excellence, and the Digital Revolution

While some look with enthusiasm toward an “unbundled” future for college study, AAC&U leaders are identifying ways that the digital revolution can drive more powerful forms of integrative liberal learning for first-generation students while also generating deeper connections between higher education institutions, students, and society.  In this opening session, two leaders in digital learning innovation will present AAC&U’s new framework for liberal education, inclusive excellence, and the transformative potential of higher education’s digital opportunity.  

Randall Bass, Vice Provost for Education, Georgetown University
Bret Eynon, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, LaGuardia Community College-CUNY


1:45–2:30pm Plenary Session

Scaling High-Impact Practices in the Age of Digital Innovation:
How Online Learning Can Teach the Arts of Evidence-Based Analysis and Research

With the release of The LEAP Challenge in 2015, AAC&U is inviting higher education to prepare all students to apply their college learning—across disciplines—to complex problems that matter to students and matter to society.  In the age of digital disruption, a key question for any digital learning innovation is whether it will help or hinder in students’ preparation to learn collaboratively and apply evidence-based inquiry to questions that matter.  In this session, two scholars will showcase digital platforms that aim to make inquiry, research, and evidence-based reasoning central to student learning. 

Rebecca Frost Davis, Director of Instructional and Emerging Technology, St. Edwards University

Ariel Anbar, President’s Professor and Director, Center for Education Through eXploration, Arizona State University; Co-Creator, Habitable Worlds, a STEM research and inquiry environment for non-STEM majors, which is collecting data on different groups of students’ learning success


2:30–3:00pm Plenary Session

From Where We Sit:
Presidents Weigh in on the Digital Opportunity—for Quality AND Equity

José Antonio Bowen, President, Goucher College

John O’Brien, President, EDUCAUSE


3:15–4:00pm Roundtable Discussions

Toward High-Impact Digital Pathways:
Identifying and Advancing Key Priorities for Digitally Enriched Liberal Learning                  

Small group discussions for presidents and program officers – led by members of the LEAP Presidents’ Trust


4:30–5:45pm Annual Meeting Plenary Session

The Equity Imperative in Practice: Presidential Perspectives

Academic leaders will describe ways their institutions have intentionally addressed inclusive excellence and systemic barriers to educational success that hinder many students from a broad range of backgrounds.

Chair:  Ronald A. Crutcher, President, University of Richmond, and Chair, National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP)


Mildred Garcia, President, California State University-Fullerton

William E. (Brit) Kirwan, Chancellor Emeritus, The University System of Maryland

Gail O. Mellow, President, LaGuardia Community College—City University of New York

6:00–7:30pm Annual Meeting Reception

We invite the AAC&U community to join AAC&U’s board and staff in thanking Carol Geary Schneider as she moves toward the conclusion of her presidency in June, 2016.

7:45–9:15pm Presidents’ Reception

By Invitation Only:  A celebratory party for presidents and special guests, hosted by the AAC&U Board of Directors


FRIDAY, January 22, 2016

7:008:45am Presidents’ Breakfast
(Separate fee required for the Presidents’ Breakfast.)

New Contenders for the College Curriculum:
Alternative Providers, Competency-Based Education, and the Restless Quest for Access at Low Cost

Chair: Sanford Ungar, Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Georgetown University; Fellow, Lumina Foundation


James Anderson, Chancellor, Fayetteville State University

Molly Corbett Broad, President, American Council on Education

Deborah Bushway, Former Senior Policy Advisor to the Under Secretary, US Department of Education

Michael Feldstein, Co-Publisher of e-Literate, Co-Producer of e-Literate TV, and Partner, MindWires Consulting.

Candace Thille, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University


9:00–10:15am Plenary Session

How New Uses of Technology Can Raise the Levels of Student Success – Part I:
Moving from “Pilots” to Powerful Change Agendas

In this session we’ll explore promising uses of digital redesign for advising and for enhanced learning—at lower cost—in large gateway courses.  Strong proponents of evidence-based innovation, the presenters will explore what the evidence tells us about choosing and advancing innovations that make a difference.

Mark Milliron, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer, Civitas Learning

MJ Bishop, Director, and Stephen E. Ehrmann, Associate Director for Research—both of the William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, University System of Maryland


10:30–11:45am Plenary Session

How New Uses of Technology Can Raise the Levels of Student Success – Part II:
Lessons from Leaders in the Innovation Alliance

Currently, the Innovation Alliance is one of the nation’s most comprehensive efforts to “move the needle” on student persistence and completion.  What are leaders learning from their investment in this effort?  What has enabled Georgia State University to successfully close the achievement gap for its minority students?

Mark Becker, President, Georgia State University

Edward Ray, President, Oregon State University

Terrell Strayhorn, Professor, Department of Educational Studies and Director, Center Higher Education Enterprise, The Ohio State University  


12:00–2:00pm Luncheon and Plenary Address
(Separate fee required for the Presidents’ Luncheon.)

Geek Heresy:  Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology

Kentaro Toyama, W.K. Kellogg Associate Professor of Community Information at the University of Michigan

 A "recovering technoholic," Toyama, co-founder of Microsoft Research India and now the W.K. Kellogg Associate Professor of Community Information at the University of Michigan, began his work on global development convinced that digital technology could prove the key to lifting communities from poverty and schools from dysfunction.  But through his work in India and elsewhere he became skeptical of Utopian visions and strongly persuaded that we need a different approach to technology in social change endeavors.  In this closing session, based on his book Geek Heresy, Professor Toyama will explore his own learning about the needed alignment of human judgment with digital innovation.  Dr. Toyama holds a B.A. from Harvard and a Ph.D. in computer science from Yale.