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Education Innovation Summit 2011

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This past week, I was invited to participate on a panel at the Education Innovation Summit organized by ASU SkySong (affiliated with Arizona State University) and NeXtAdvisors. The goal of the summit’s organizers is to “’curate’ an environment that provides the right mix of wild-eyed education entrepreneurs, value added investors, not-for-profit leaders, progressive policy makers, academic thought leaders, and forward leaning foundations, philanthropists and industry executives.” Based on the attendees that I met as well as my fellow presenters and panelists, I believe that the organizers hit their mark.

Regardless of the speaker or panel topic, if there was an underlying theme, it was “America’s education system is broken. There are many good ideas. If we don’t implement them soon, our nation will suffer.” Whether it was James Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, US Department of Education; Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University; Craig Barrett, retired CEO of Intel Corporation; or Joel Klein, EVP at News Corp and former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education; all of them delivered the message that we need to reform our education system. Dr. Crow talked about how the taxpayers of Arizona are paying twice for inadequately prepared high school graduates who have to take remedial math and reading courses when they matriculate in Arizona’s colleges. Dr. Barrett listed the many policy studies beginning with A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform that identified the problems in our education system and yet little progress has been made. Joel Klein said that the perverse incentives with K-12 leave little reason for striving for excellence in teaching and learning.

Despite the big issues that need to be solved, I think this nation has the ability to solve many of these problems. I left the conference committed to not just focusing on higher education issues, but to see if there are ways that members of our institution can contribute to K-12 innovations and improvements as well. We have reached the stage where it’s no longer appropriate to say that the problems are someone else’s. Reforming education is all of our responsibilities and cooperation is needed if we want to improve the lives of the generations behind us.

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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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