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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 July 2016, he retired as APUS president and continued as CEO of APEI. In September 2017, he was reappointed APUS president after the resignation of Dr. Karan Powell. In September 2019, Angela Selden was named CEO of APEI, succeeding Dr. Boston who will remain APUS president until his planned retirement in June 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. During his tenure, APUS grew to over 100,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 90,000 alumni. In addition to his service as a board member of APUS and APEI, Dr. Boston is 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, a board member of the Presidents’ Forum, and a board member of Hondros College of Nursing and Fidelis, Inc. 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. Dr. Boston lives in Owings Mills, MD with his wife Sharon and their two daughters.

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