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About the academy

Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership


The Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, a partnership between Arizona State University and Georgetown University, is the premier training ground for those who aspire to senior leadership positions in higher education, and those who want to lead organizational change at colleges and universities in the future.

The academy's mission

After a year of pandemic, social uprising, historic economic crisis, the challenges facing higher education now and in the future are immense. The shifts caused by globalization, technology, demographics have intensified and increased pressure on colleges and universities to confront the questions about their cost, value, quality and relevance. After a year of hybrid delivery models, many institutions are under pressure to think differently about the traditional campus experience. A generation of college and university leaders are expected to retire in the coming decade, leaving a void at the top levels at a critical time for higher education.

Why was the academy created?

The Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership is designed to fill the void for transformative leaders in higher education. It is the premier training ground for those who aspire to senior leadership positions and those who want to lead organizational change at colleges and universities in the future.

What makes the academy innovative and unique?

In particular, the academy features two key leadership components:

Design thinking will be embedded in each module of the program. Each module will feature a design exercise where the group will develop a new approach to tackling a problem related to the subject of the module. The results are meant to be provocations to inspire participants to bring new ideas to their campuses.

Leadership Coaching and Learning Circles ask students to consider the types of new leadership skills and behaviors required to lead change and transformation of 21st-century higher education institutions. The leadership component of the program is designed to support students in learning these new skills and behaviors and integrating them into everyday practice, transforming themselves and the people around them.

Leadership Coaching is a personal development process and a form of one-on-one purposeful and strategic conversation between the fellow and an academy coach. Academy coaches serve as strategic partners who offer encouragement, support, honest feedback and provocative questions to bring about clarity and new possibilities for fellows.

In addition to one-on-one coaching, academy fellows meet in smaller groups called Learning Circles. Learning Circles create another level of a learning community in which fellows can deepen their understanding of classroom concepts. Within the Learning Circle, fellows use an action-learning and peer-coaching model to support one another in looking at their leadership behaviors around specific and real challenges within their home institutions. Using the model, fellows reflect on current practices; expand, refine and build new skills; share ideas, teach one another; and solve problems. Fellows will learn a method for analyzing challenges, a new way of supporting colleague leaders in solving challenges, and alternative paths for taking action.

How does the academy differ from other higher education executive programs?

Rather than emphasize the tactical day-to-day aspects of leading today's institutions, the academy is centered exclusively on innovative ideas across a range of challenges facing higher education now and in the near future.

Students learn the critical thinking, analysis and design skills needed to solve the complex issues facing higher education. The principles of design are embedded into the program, allowing students to participate in exercises that help develop the next-generation governance structures, credentials and financial models.

The program focuses on bringing ideas to practice, linking theory to relevant applications and scaling innovations in teaching and learning, leadership, finance and technology that can transform higher education institutions today and in the future.

Program leadership

Jeffrey J. Selingo
Jeffrey J. Selingo
Special Advisor to Arizona State University
Darcie Milazzo
Darcie Milazzo
Director for Leadership Development and Coach for the academy
Ryanne T. Avina
Ryanne T. Avina
Senior Program Manager