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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

The Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership is a program for entrepreneurial leaders working in four-year higher education institutions. These individuals (fellows) seek to create innovation and change that enhances higher education’s reach and impact. Fellows recognize that leading in this context requires a life-long commitment to growing as a leader.

As the imperative for innovation intensifies, the diversity of our campuses increases and the experiences, backgrounds and perspectives of our future students expand, we are committed to cultivating leaders that can effectively enable institutions to successfully meet this rising complexity. Equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging are at the center of both creating innovation and leading change inside higher education. Building leadership capacity to tackle systemic and structural inequity is central to leading in this context.

The source of innovative and entrepreneurial leadership is a robust and diverse community of people with regard to race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability status, immigration status and national origin. We strive to create a cohort that is reflective of the future of higher education—its students, faculty and staff. We intentionally build a cohort to include many voices, maximize our understanding of the complexity of higher education, expand our perspectives on innovation and create a community in which each leader has a sense of belonging and connectedness. We seek to create an environment that is equitable and inclusive of all social identities, traditional and nontraditional paths to leadership in higher education, acknowledges the vast range of perspectives and expertise of the academe and honors each fellow’s experience and contributions.

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