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Changing Trends in Higher Education

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One of the more stimulating conversations occurred during the recent Chronicle’s Executive Leadership Forum. “Will Your College Close in 2012: Surviving the Demographic Shift” was the topic and it was moderated by Travis Reindl, Program Director of Jobs for the Future. In the future, “fewer applicants will be white and fewer will be from New England” were the lead issues for comment from the panelists who included Sarita Brown, President of Excelencia in Education, Roger Goodman, Vice President at Moody’s Investor Services, and Dawn Terkla, Associate Provost at Tufts University. Brown commented on the leading trends in the Hispanic community, Goodman on the impact of enrollment declines in debt servicing capacity, and Terkla on the perspective of these trends from a highly selective institution. This topic was not too different from a topic presented at the American Council on Education’s annual meeting in San Diego in February which was titled “New Students: Who, What, Where, and When”. Demographics are shifting in higher education and we need to be prepared. Already, the number of males attending college has slipped below 50 percent nationwide. Given the trends, it’s a matter of time before the white enrollment is less than 50 percent as well. While these trends are certainly different for many residential colleges, distance education institutions have held higher enrolled percentages of women and minorities for years. That said, many of us will need to examine the relevance of our curriculums as the shift continues over the next few years.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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