Chancellor Named To National Presidential Innovation Lab

Chancellor Named to National Presidential Innovation Lab

Foothill-De Anza Community College District Chancellor Linda M. Thor is among 14 college and university chief executives who will begin meeting next week to examine possible models inspired by the disruptive potential of educational technologies such as massively open online courses (MOOCs) to boost the number of Americans able to earn a college degree.

Thor is among 14 presidents and chancellors from a diverse group of colleges and universities who are coming together as the Presidential Innovation Lab, a groundbreaking effort organized by the American Council on Education (ACE). Members will meet for the first time July 21-23 at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, an independent non-profit research organization that will help guide the group's work. The work of the Presidential Innovation Lab is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Lab participants will consider such questions as how new educational innovations could be used by students toward degree completion and how they would impact the fundamental design and delivery of instruction, ways that institutions recognize learning and the underlying financing models for all of higher education.

"It's important that a well-respected organization such as ACE provide leadership in sorting out the many complex issues associated with the phenomenon of MOOCs," Thor said. "Although online learning has been growing rapidly over the past two decades, MOOCs have sparked new conversations about access, affordability and quality. We in higher education are interested in improving access to affordable quality education but we can't minimize the challenges of incorporating this type of delivery into traditional ways of financing, measuring learning and credentialing."

Thor is one of two community college leaders and two California higher education executives participating in the Presidential Innovation Lab. Other participants include:

• Joseph E. Aoun, president, Northeastern University (MA)• Chris Bustamante, president, Rio Salado College (AZ)• Scott S. Cowen, president, Tulane University (LA)• Michael M. Crow, president, Arizona State University• John F. Ebersole, president, Excelsior College (NY)• Renu Khator, president, University of Houston and chancellor, University of Houston System (TX)• Paul J. LeBlanc, president, Southern New Hampshire University• Robert W. Mendenhall, president, Western Governors University (UT)• Mohammad H. Qayoumi, president, San Jose State University (CA)• 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 (ME)

"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.

The group's work will guide a national dialogue about the types 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, said Cathy A. Sandeen, ACE vice president for educational attainment and innovation.

The Foothill-De Anza chancellor has a longstanding interest in online learning and non-traditional approaches to meeting the educational needs of adults. As president of Arizona's Rio Salado College for 20 years, she built an institution known for innovation in serving non-traditional students, largely online. The Foothill-De Anza district, where Thor has been chancellor since 2010, was the first community college district in California to put courses online in the 1990s, at Foothill College.

The Presidential Innovation Lab is part of a wide-ranging research and evaluation effort examining the academic potential of MOOCS announced by ACE in November 2012. (See )

About ACEFounded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, 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. Fore more information, please visit or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

About Foothill-De AnzaLocated in Silicon Valley, Foothill-De Anza is one of California's largest top-performing community college districts. It serves approximately 65,000 students a year at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and De Anza College in Cupertino.


Posted July 17, 2013