A Year of Higher Education Aha Moments

It has been a year since I arrived at the American Council on Education (ACE) in Washington, D.C., a 22-year veteran of the University of California and most recently the dean of UCLA Extension, charged with tackling the task of helping define and craft a national agenda for helping more Americans gain college degrees, certificates or other higher education credentials.

It’s a natural time to reflect on lessons learned about postsecondary attainment, the role innovation might play in boosting attainment rates for nontraditional students and how to help the broader higher education community understand the major issues holding us back from achieving great strides.

My work at ACE also involves exploring, identifying and disseminating information about how technology and other innovations that aim to boost attainment rates might aid the pressing need to renew our national commitment to social and economic mobility — and therefore economic strength — by creating more pathways into and through American postsecondary education. This is a big, audacious, inspiring job, and it’s led to some major “aha moments” about some of the steps that could get us closer to achieving an permeable, interconnected higher education system.

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