Current Winner

2012 - Robert W. Mendenhall, president of Western Governors University

Western Governors University (WGU) is a private, non-profit, online university offering competency-based undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business, Teacher Education, Information Technology, and Health Professions, including Nursing. Founded in 1997 by a group of 19 western governors with the mission to improve the quality and expand access to post-secondary educational opportunities. Dr. Mendenhall became president of Western Governors University in 1999, the same year its first students were enrolled.

See Change magazine, July/August, 2012

2011 - Virginia B. Smith (1923-2010)

A Legacy of Innovation: In Memoriam Change magazine, July-August 2011

2011 - Julie M. Phelps, project director of Achieving the Dream and professor of mathematics at Valencia Community College Orlando, Florida

For the past 10 years, Phelps has studied ways to increase student engagement, learning, retention, and graduation among developmental education students. This research has provided her with strategies to strengthen student engagement and performance through peer mentoring in which a "role model" student demonstrates how to be a successful student both in and out of the classroom. Valencia’s supplemental instruction focuses on high-risk courses, those with less than a 70 percent success rate, instead of high-risk students so that the students are not stigmatized. Since its beginning in 2004, the supplemental instruction courses have grown from 10 sections to over 40 sections per semester.

See Julie M. Phelps Interview (PDF Format)
See News Release
See Change magazine, July-August 2010

2009 - Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Under Hrabowski's leadership, the university has become an exemplar in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, particularly involving underrepresented minority students, through its Meyerhoff Scholars Program. Created in 1988, the program is designed to increase minority participation and leadership in the STEM fields. The program's unique approach emphasizes cooperation and collaboration rather than competition among students, an intensive six-week orientation, a robust advising system, and substantive research experiences for the students working closely with faculty mentors.

Hrabowski's work embodies the qualities and accomplishments we seek to recognize. His leadership at the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus in identifying and encouraging the development of student potential in STEM fields is remarkable and has inspired many others across the country to embrace this agenda.

See News Release
See Change magazine, May-June, 2009

2008 - Ralph Wolff, Executive Director – Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Ralph Wolff helped to place the Commission at the forefront of regional and national discussions about educational quality, and methods to develop campus cultures focused on student and organizational learning. [new paragraph] Wolff has led the development of a new framework for accreditation through new models of self-study and team visits. The changes have influenced accrediting processes in several other regions of the country.

Through Wolff's efforts, the Commission has received a number of grants totaling over $2.3 million from The Pew Charitable Trusts and The James Irvine Foundation to redesign the accreditation process to address the needs of the 21st century. Expanding on concept development sessions, "dream teams" undertaking experimental reviews, and regional conversations, the Commission has now adopted a completely revised and learning-focused accreditation review process.

See News Release
See Change magazine, May-June, 2008

2007 - Carol Twigg is president and CEO of the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) and developed the Program in Course Redesign (PCR). The effort proved that colleges and universities can use technology to reduce costs while improving the quality of instruction.

"Carol Twigg has shown that technology can not only improve the quality of student learning, but play a key role in tackling the rising cost of higher education," says Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. "Moreover, she has shattered the notion that these improvements cannot be made without spending more money."

Her work embodies the qualities and accomplishments we seek to recognize. She showed leadership in creating the National Center for Academic Transformation and demonstrating that the quality of education in undergraduate courses can be improved while serving more students and reducing the overall costs. The Center's work has had a national impact and served as a model for improvement in education throughout the country.

See News Release
See Change magazine, May-June, 2007

2006 - David S. Spence, President - Southern Regional Education Board and Developer of California State University Early Assessment Program.

Prior to becoming the President of SREB, David Spence served as the executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer of the California State University since 1998. Dr. Spence has helped California public schools and the California State University System develop a college-readiness assessment courses for high school seniors. This nationally recognized work to improve readiness for college and access to college is closely related to key parts of SREB's current Challenge to Lead Goals for Education, which defines the SREB program agenda.

See the May/June 2006 issue of Change magazine

2005 - National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)
George Kuh
Under George Kuh's leadership, NSSE has developed several tools to help colleges and universities use the survey results to improve their services. This has included national roundtables, regional users workshops, an accreditation tool kit, and a new five-year initiative to improve student attainment at minority-serving institutions.

Kuh is Chancellor's Professor of Higher Education at Indiana University, Bloomington, where the NSSE project is housed. At Indiana University, he also served as Associate Dean of the Faculties for the Bloomington campus from 1997 to 2000, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Education from 1985 to 1988, and Chairperson of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from 1982 to 1984.

He has more than 250 publications and has made several hundred presentations on college student development, assessment strategies for postsecondary institutions, and campus cultures. He received a B.A. from Luther College in 1968, an M.S. from St. Cloud State University in 1971, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1975.

2003 - National Learning Communities Project
Barbara Leigh Smith and Jean MacGregor
Barbara Leigh Smith and Jean MacGregor co-direct The Pew Charitable Trusts' National Learning Communities Project--a four-year initiative aimed at strengthening the learning community movement across the country. Learning communities link courses around themes and enroll a common group of students. These initiatives are designed to foster community, coherence, and connections among courses, and to encourage a more sustained intellectual interaction among learners and teachers. Learning communities are now found at more than 500 colleges and universities (public and private, two- and four-year) across the United States and Canada.

Both Smith and MacGregor have written extensively on educational reform, collaborative learning, and learning communities.

Barbara Leigh Smith is a faculty member at The Evergreen State College, where she has also served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs from 1999 to 2001. From 1978 to 1994, she served as Academic Dean.

Along with her learning community work, Jean MacGregor's career has involved teaching and community organizing in environmental studies, environmental education, and community development. For her leadership in learning communities, Change magazine named MacGregor one of eleven "agenda setters" among its eighty "past, present and future leaders of higher education" in 1998.

2002 - Technology in the Classroom
Robert Olin
Robert Olin is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama. He was recognized for his long-term career commitment to broad-based strategies to improve mathematic education and the use of technology in instruction.

2001 - Assessment
Tim Riordan
Tim Riordan is a professor of Philosophy and Associated Dean for Academic Affairs at Alverno College Institute, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. An expert in his field, he has presented at regional and national conferences on the subject of teaching improvement, assessment in learning, and curriculum development. He has consulted with faculty on these same issues on campuses across the United States, as well as the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Peter Ewell
Peter Ewell is a Senior Associate at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), a research and development center founded to improve the management effectiveness of colleges and universities. Dr. Ewell's work focuses on assessing institutional effectiveness and the outcomes of college, and involves both research and direct consulting with institutions and state systems on collecting and using assessment information in planning, evaluation, and budgeting.

2000 - Collaboration
Susana Navarro
Susana Navarro, executive director of the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence, was recognized for her leadership in bringing together El Paso's education, business, and civic leaders to focus on preparing all students to become educated citizens.


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