Skip to content

President Aoun joins National Presidential Innovation Lab

President Joseph E. Aoun has been named to the American Council on Education’s Presidential Innovation Lab, a new national initiative to explore opportunities in disruptive innovations in higher education and design solutions to increase the number of Americans able to earn a college degree.

Aoun, the former board chair of ACE, is one of 14 presidents and chancellors leading the Presidential Innovation Lab. Inspired by recent innovations in higher education such as massive open online courses—also known as MOOCs—the group will engage in proactive thought leadership and guide a national dialogue about potential new academic and financial models that can help close attainment gaps, including those among non-traditional students and low-income young adults.

“This is an opportunity for senior higher education leaders to engage in comprehensive and critical thinking about the potential of this new learning modality to boost attainment levels, particularly among older, post-traditional students, low-income young adults and other underserved students,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad.

“Globalization and the new demands of the knowledge economy have created large populations of non-traditional students,” said President Aoun. “We need non-traditional learning models in higher education to meet their needs. I look forward to this strategic partnership with my colleagues from great institutions to devise innovative solutions for lifelong learners.”

A global thought-leader on critical issues in higher education, Aoun is a longtime advocate for the strength and diversity of the American system of higher education, which, he often says, “remains the envy of the world.”

The Presidential Innovation Lab will explore how newer educational innovations could be used by students toward degree completion. The group will also assess the potential impact of such innovations on the fundamental design and delivery of instruction and the underlying financing models for all of higher education.

“The work of the Presidential Innovation Lab, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will guide a national dialogue about the type of academic and financial models that might grow out of the current high level of interest in MOOCs and other new technologies and learning methods,” added Cathy A. Sandeen, ACE vice president for education attainment and innovation.

ACE is the largest organization representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. The Presidential Innovation Lab is part of a wide-ranging research and evaluation effort examining the academic potential of MOOCs.

Also participating in the Presidential Innovation Lab are:

  • Chris Bustamante, president, Rio Salado College (Ariz.)
  • Scott S. Cowen, president, Tulane University (La.)
  • Michael M. Crow, president, Arizona State University
  • John F. Ebersole, president, Excelsior College (N.Y.)
  • Renu Khator, president, University of Houston and chancellor, University of Houston System (Texas)
  • Paul J. LeBlanc, president, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Robert W. Mendenhall, president, Western Governors University (Utah)
  • Mohammad H. Qayoumi, president, San Jose State University (Calif.)
  • Vincent Price, provost, The University of Pennsylvania
  • L. Rafael Reif, president, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Kevin P. Reilly, president, University of Wisconsin System
  • Clayton Spencer, president, Bates College (Maine)
  • Linda M. Thor, chancellor, Foothill-De Anza Community College District (Calif.)

The group’s initial session will be held July 21-23 at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, Calif., an independent, nonprofit research organization that will help guide the work of the Presidential Innovation Lab. A second two-day meeting will take place in Washington, D.C., in October.