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The Value and Virtue of a Book List

The Value and Virtue of a Book List

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Wally BostonWarren Buffett has noted that the key to innovation and success is the voracious consumption of information. Amid today’s unceasing push of content and media to your mobile device, it might surprise some that many luminaries ranging from investors to leading technology companies undertake their information gathering the old-fashioned way: through books.

Being connected 24/7 to news and consumable information is important, but finding time to read selected, well-researched books complements and cultivates a deeper understanding and application of diverse topics that fuel innovation. While many famous people profess to read daily, the reality is, leaders at any level benefit by unplugging and diving into a book. The challenge is finding the time, but having a stack of books nearby reminds me to pause and find the time.

My book lists have served me well in my career not just for knowledge gathering, but in helping create a common understanding between colleagues of complex or abstract concepts that are difficult to explain. The benefit is shared subject knowledge, which enables everyone to assess it collaboratively. As an educator, there’s something uniquely satisfying to me about referring an insightful book to a colleague, but even more so, receiving a referral and learning something entirely new or unexpected.

At APUS, many of our departments compile libraries for the purpose of knowledge-sharing with  everyone in the organization. In fact, at a recent all-staff meeting, I was asked, what am I currently reading? As we head into a busy Commencement 2018 weekend, I’d like to share the current books that I’m reading:

  • The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation by Darrell M. West. I have a keen interest in artificial intelligence, its capabilities and potential societal impact. This is but one of about ten books worth noting on this rapidly evolving topic.
  • Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town by Brian Alexander. I grew up in a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and our Charles Town offices are similarly located in a small West Virginia town. I am always interested in observations about small towns, the sweeping changes they experience or may be subject to, and recommendations to help preserve their unique character.
  • Winnebagos on Wednesdays: How Visionary Leadership Can Transform Higher Education by Scott Cowen. Scott served as president of Case Western Reserve in Cleveland and Tulane in New Orleans. I’ve had to pleasure of knowing him for over a decade. His leadership at Tulane during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, when they had to close for the remainder of the year, is must reading.

I’m reviewing a stack of about ten other books recommended to me or that I’m researching based on the state of education, future innovations and business strategies, or just out of personal curiosity. I hope you’ll find these references as interesting as I do.

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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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