Leadership Network Symposium: Leveraging AI to Enhance Higher Education Access: Building Resilient Strategies for the Future

Brief Abstract

In today's rapidly changing landscape of higher education, institutions face various challenges in ensuring equitable access and adaptability. This session aims to explore the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in strategic planning to enhance higher education access while fostering institutional resilience. Join us as we delve into the ways AI technologies can revolutionize decision-making processes, optimize risk management, and drive innovation, enabling educational institutions to thrive in the face of uncertainty.


The OLC Leadership Network Symposium will bring together trailblazers and influential voices in our field in a highly collaborative one-day event, fostering discussions and debates about our digital learning futures. Together, we will determine our top priorities for the upcoming year, addressing the most significant challenges and opportunities facing our field. It aims to collectively identify areas that require our focused attention in addressing the ubiquitous challenges and promising opportunities for creating equitable, inclusive, and quality online and blended education. This year’s symposium promises a truly engaging experience, featuring a keynote address, panel discussions, and numerous networking opportunities. Do not miss out on this unique and prestigious event, where you can connect with leaders from around the world and gain valuable insights into critical topics. Learn More and Register: https://onlinelearningconsortium.org/attend-2023/accelerate/leadership-network-symposium/


Angela Gunder is the Chief Academic Officer and VP of Learning for the Online Learning Consortium. In this role, she is responsible for gathering, curating, and leveraging the intellectual capital created by and disseminated through OLC. Prior to her position at the OLC, Angela served as the Director of Instructional Design & Curriculum Development for the Office of Digital Learning, managing and mentoring the team that builds the fully-online programs for The University of Arizona. Her over fifteen-year career as a designer for higher education informs her instructional design practice, where she leverages her expertise in web design, usability, visual communication, programming, and standards-based online learning. She is an Associate Editor for the Teacher Education Board of MERLOT, and the recipient of the 2018 MERLOT Distinguished Service Award, the organization’s highest honor. She is also the recipient of two Online Learning Consortium Effective Practice Awards for the creation of a framework for personal learning networks, and for the creation of exploratory installations of education technology, respectively. In 2019, Dr. Gunder was named an OLC Fellow for her dedication to service, innovation, and scholarship in support of student success in online learning. Her research interests include open educational practices, digital literacies, narrative in online course design, and emerging technology for second language acquisition. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Fine Art from Fordham University, a M.Ed. in Education Technology from Arizona State University. Angela completed her Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies at The University of Arizona, where in 2020 she was named an Erasmus Scholar by the College of Education for her commitment to the college, the university and to the community. Pronouns: she/her/hers
Melissa Vito has over 35 years of experience in public higher education. As Vice Provost for Academic Innovation at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA), Melissa has transformed teaching and learning at UTSA, grown an infrastructure for fully online programs and created dynamic learning environments that prepare students to thrive in a world where digital literacy and fluency are required. She led the reorganization that brought together the areas of Teaching and Learning and Digital Learning into one area focused on modality-agnostic teaching, learning, and digital transformation. Under her leadership, UTSA Online, a fully-online university experience, climbed to the top 25% of all online U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Programs list in 2023. Melissa was instrumental in uniting UTSA and Adobe Creative Campus and creating a research project to measure the impact of curricular use of Adobe tools on student learning. Melissa and her team have also reimagined physical learning environments. Academic Innovation transformed over 60 classrooms and four outdoor learning spaces. The Educause Horizon Report in 2022 recognized UTSA’s dynamic approach to integrating collaborative academic technologies into classrooms and faculty training. Melissa envisioned and created the Academic Innovation Center (AIC), an incubator and community space that brings faculty, students, and teaching and learning specialists together to experiment with new ideas, encourage creativity and inspire transformative teaching. Melissa has enhanced student success by creating innovative faculty professional development programs and dedicating more than $1 million to faculty grants and incentives. Prior to UTSA, Melissa served as Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives and Student Success at the University of Arizona (UA), retiring in July of 2018. During her UA career, she developed and launched UA’s online programs in 2015, and was recognized by UPCEA in 2019 for the Innovation in Transformation Award. She co-founded the Gender-Based Violence Center; co-coordinated efforts that led to UA’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution; envisioned and developed the Think Tank learning center; reimagined Career Services; and oversaw the development of the University’s first Veterans Center. Melissa’s vision to bring together all areas that impact student success resulted in the UA Student Success District, which opened in 2021. Melissa has consulted with large public universities and corporations on issues pertaining to higher education, fully online programs, leadership, crisis management, and faculty development. She speaks and writes frequently, including contributing to NASPA’s book Online & Engaged (March 2020) and From Grassroots to the Highly Orchestrated. Recognized nationally by NASPA as a Pillar of the Profession, she has also received the ACPA national award for Excellence in Practice, the National Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors Kent Gardner Award for Excellence, is a member of the Online Learning Consortium Board of Directors and on faculty for Educause’s Digital Leaders Institute. At UA, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and English and a master’s degree in Higher Education and Counseling. She has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University
Reed Dickson is the director for online faculty experience and innovation at Pima Community College where he designs and teaches courses and learning experiences for faculty in online pedagogy, instructional design and educational technology. Reed also writes and presents regularly around EdTech product design and online pedagogy. Since the emergence of ChatGPT 3.5, Reed has been regularly speaking on the future of AI for teaching and learning. When not teaching or designing faculty development experiences, Reed also advises EdTech startups as well as colleges and K-12 school districts. To learn more, visit https://www.reeddickson.com/.
As SJSU’s provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, Vincent J. Del Casino Jr. serves as a key member of the university president’s leadership team with primary responsibility for ensuring academic excellence in undergraduate and graduate studies as well as a continual commitment to research, scholarship, and creative activities that benefit all students and society at large. At the University of Arizona, Del Casino provided leadership and administrative oversight as the campus redeveloped central spaces for student support activities; re-organized its central administrative areas; increased online enrollment and program offerings; and enhanced student success and retention. With more than 18 years of academic and administrative experience in higher education, he also served as professor and chair of the Department of Geography at California State University, Long Beach. Del Casino is a prolific writer and researcher who authored the book Social Geography: A Critical Introduction. He has also edited, co-edited and co-authored multiple other books and published dozens of articles and book chapters on topics ranging from health, robots and robotic technologies, cartographic theory, and tourism, in the context of geography. His numerous commentaries on higher education have been published in The Evolllution and Inside Higher Education, including 'Machine Learning, Big Data and the Future of Higher Education.' Prior to earning his doctorate in geography from the University of Kentucky, Del Casino received his master’s in geography from the University of Wisconsin and bachelor’s in international relations and East Asian studies from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Andrew Shean is the Chief Learning Officer at Penn Foster where he leads academic program leadership, curriculum/courseware, academic support, faculty, non-academic support, and academic operations in pursuit of improving student lives. Penn Foster recently earned one of the best online providers in 2023 from Newsweek. Previously, Dr. Shean was the Senior Vice President & Chief Academic Officer at National Education Partners. In the earlier stages of his career, Dr. Shean has served in a variety of roles: the Chief Academic Learning Officer for Bridgepoint Education, Vice Provost for Ashford University, Executive Dean for the College of Education at Ashford University, and helped lead the Poway Unified School District’s initiative to develop online and 1-1 education programs. He also served as a high school English teacher where he was named the 2009 District Teacher of the Year. In 2014, Dr. Shean was selected to be one of six faculty to lead the Institute for Engaged Leadership in Online Education through Penn State World Campus in partnership with Online Learning Consortium. In 2017, Dr. Shean was selected as a Chief Academic Officer Digital Fellow, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with 31 other CAO's from across the country. Dr. Shean currently serves on the Association for Chief Academic Officers Board of Trustees, is sought out to give keynotes, and is highly involved in academic research. Dr. Shean earned his Doctorate of Educational Leadership and Management degree from Alliant International University. He holds an MA in Education and a BA in Sociology from the University of Northern Colorado.

Extended Abstract