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Overview: National Advisory Board Conversation Series

The Civitas Learning National Advisory Board is comprised of researchers, association leaders, and executives whose expertise has influenced higher education policy and institutional practice across the United States, and guided our work from day one. With the NAB Conversation Series, we are thrilled to give our community an opportunity to learn from these luminaries as we continue our work together to change student outcomes.

We are thrilled to give Civitas Learning institutions an opportunity to learn about higher ed trends, latest research, and innovative practices from these thought leaders.

Tune into the National Advisory Board Conversation Series!  


Vince Tinto

Discusses program sustainability and how students make sense of their experiences to become motivated to persist


Davis Jenkins

Shares how college leaders can provide the full value proposition of a program that prepares students for lifelong learning


Linda Baer

Best practices aligned with the new "gold standard for analytics” to improve performance, productivity, effectiveness


George Siemens
The creator of MOOCs discusses learning, networks, analytics & visualization, openness, org effectiveness in digital environments


Sally Johnstone

Explains critical levers for campus culture change to enable equity gap reduction and great success for all students


Bill Holda

Shares anecdotes from presidential searches, and challenges institutions face in transitioning to culture of evidence


Gerardo de los Santos

Unpacks issues around leadership development, diversity, first-generation learners, equity and inclusion for community colleges


Lisa Petrides

Discusses trends in open education, design thinking, and strategic use of data to improve educational experiences for all students


Dragan Gasevic

On how next-generation learning technologies can advance information-seeking, sense-making, self-regulated social learning


Read full bios for the National Advisory Board Members:  

Dr. Vincent Tinto, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Syracuse University: Tinto has carried out research and has written extensively on higher education, particularly on student success and the impact of learning communities on student growth and attainment. His book, Leaving College, published by the University of Chicago Press, lays out a theory and policy perspective on student success that is considered the benchmark by which work on these issues are judged. His most recent book, Completing College, also published by The University of Chicago Press, lays out a framework for institutional action for student success, describes the range of programs that have been effective in enhancing student success, and the types of policies institutions should follow to successfully implement programs in ways that endure and scale-up over time. 

Dr. Davis Jenkins, Senior Research Associate, Community College Research Center: Jenkins works with colleges and states to find ways to improve educational and employment outcomes for students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds of credentials, and to prepare students to succeed in further education and careers. His research and thinking have informed the development and spread of innovative approaches to improving student outcomes, including career pathways, adult technical bridge programs (such as Washington State’s I-BEST), and guided pathways to success (GPS).

Dr. Linda Baer, Former Senior Program Officer, Postsecondary Success, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Former Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic & Student Affairs, Minnesota State College and University System: Baer has served over thirty years in numerous executive level positions in higher education including Senior Fellow with Civitas Learning, as Senior Vice President and Interim President at Bemidji State University and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs at Minnesota State University Mankato. Currently, she is doing senior level consulting in higher education. Her ongoing focus is to inspire leaders to innovate, integrate and implement solutions to improve student success and transform institutions for the future. Baer presents nationally in academic innovations, educational transformation, the development of alliances and partnerships, the campus of the future, shared leadership and building organizational capacity in analytics. Recent publications have been on smart change, shared leadership, successful partnerships, what leaders need to know in an age of analytics, innovations and transformation in higher education, change agent leadership and analytics as a tool to improve student success. She presents on issues relating to analytics, optimizing student success, next generation leadership, and change management in higher education.

Dr. George Siemens, Executive director of the Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab (LINK), The University of Texas at Arlington: Siemens has played a vital leadership and innovator role in higher education for more than 20 years. He is an educator and researcher on learning, networks, analytics and visualization, openness, and organizational effectiveness in digital environments. He is the author of Knowing Knowledge, an exploration of how the context and characteristics of knowledge have changed and what it means to organizations today, and the Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning.

Dr. Sally Johnstone, President, National Center For Higher Education Management Systems: Before joining NCHEMS, Johnstone served the higher education community as a vice president at the Western Governors University, a provost at a public comprehensive university, the founding director of WCET at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), an assistant dean, and as a faculty member. She also serves as the executive director of the Foundation for Student Success, a commissioner on the U.S. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Commission, and on the editorial boards for Change magazine (USA) and the Journal of Open Learning (UK). She is the founding editor of the new Journal of Competency-Based Education.

Dr. Dragan Gasevic, Professor of Learning Analytics, Monash University: Gasevic was formerly Professor and Chair in Learning Analytics and Informatics in the Moray House School of Education and the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. He is the current president and a co-founder of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) and holds several honorary adjunct appointments in Australia, Canada, and USA. A computer scientist by training and skills, Gasevic considers himself a learning analyst developing computational methods that can shape next-generation learning technologies and advance our understanding of self-regulated and social learning. Funded by granting agencies and industry in Canada, Australia, Europe, and USA, Gasevic is a recipient of several best paper awards at the major international conferences in learning and software technology. Committed to the development of international research community, Gasevic had a pleasure to serve as a founding program chair of the International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge and the Learning Analytics Summer Institute. Currently serving as a founding editor of the Journal of Learning Analytics, Gasevic is a co-author of numerous research papers and books and a frequent keynote speaker.

Dr. Gerardo de los Santos, Former CEO and President, The League for Innovation in the Community College: Dr. Gerardo E. de lost Santos is a Senior Fellow for Civitas Learning. Prior to this he served The League for 17 years, presiding for over a decade as President and CEO. The League is an international organization dedicated to catalyzing the community college movement. De los Santos is a sought-after speaker in higher education and has authored and co-authored over 50 publications, most recently including The Key Trends in Community Colleges Report. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the prestigious 2015 ETS O’Banion Prize in Education for his significant contributions to teaching and learning, and the 2009 International Leadership Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development of the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Lisa Petrides, CEO and Founder, Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME): Petrides brings over 20 years of K-12 and higher education experience to the table. ISKME, an independent, non-profit organization founded by Petrides in 2002, is well known for its OER Commons initiative, as well as its award-winning international research and practice around open access tools in the education sector. Petrides’ research and writing are at the forefront of innovation in how education can be made relevant to learning through open access, social learning, information sharing, and knowledge collaboration.

Dr. William M. "Bill" Holda, Former President, Kilgore College: Holda served as the eighth president of Kilgore College from 1996 until his retirement in 2016. Prior to that he served Kilgore College as the Dean of Admissions and Registrar for six years. He was also employed by Kilgore College as an instructor of voice, ear training, opera workshop, and music theory. He has served as the Director of the Fine Arts Division, supervising the departments of Music, Art, Theater, and Dance. He also served as an instructor of music and philosophy, and in various capacities at the institution, as well as on numerous state and local committees and task forces. He served ten years on the Executive Committee of the Texas Association of Community Colleges and was Chairman of that association from 2011-2013. Holda has served as a facilitator and presenter for numerous leadership academies and community college trustee workshops.

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