Speakers

Paul LeBlanc, President, Southern New Hampshire University

Dr. Paul J. LeBlanc is President of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Under the 13 years of Paul’s direction, SNHU has more grown from 2800 students to over 100,000 and is the largest non-profit provider of online higher education in the country, and the first to have a full competency-based degree program untethered to the credit hour or classes approved by a regional accreditor and the US Department of Education.

In 2012 the university was #12 on Fast Company magazine’s “World’s Fifty Most Innovative Companies” list and was the only university included. Paul won a New England Higher Education Excellence Award in 2012, the 2015 NH Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and has repeatedly been named one of “New Hampshire’s Most Influential People” by New Hampshire Business ReviewForbes Magazine has listed him as one of its 15 “Classroom Revolutionaries” and one of the “most influential people in higher education” for 2016. He was featured on Bloomberg TV’s “Innovators” series, Fast Company included him in its “1000 Most Creative People” List, and Washington Monthly named him one of America’s ten most innovative university presidents.

In 2018, Paul won the prestigious IAA Institute Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence in Higher Education, joining some of the most respected university and college presidents in American higher education.

Among the innovations created with Paul’s leadership include:

  • The first degree program in e-commerce (1998);
  • The SNHU Advantage Program, which cuts the cost of a degree by 40% (2006);
  • College for America, the first direct assessment competency-based degree program approved by an accreditor and the US Department of Education (2013);
  • Expansion of SNHU’s Degree-in-Three undergraduate program (2014);
  • Successful roll out of online CBE for refugees in the Kiziba Refugee Camp in Rwanda (2015) and four other camps in Africa (2018);
  • Launching an initiative to educate 1000 DACA recipients nationwide;
  • Approval for Title IV dual enrollment and participation in RISE High, the XQ Super School Prize winner, focusing on the education of homeless youth and those who have timed out of foster care in LA County (2016).

Current projects include rethinking engineering education, social finance bonds, and expansion of the refugee camp work.

He served as Senior Policy Advisor to Under Secretary Ted Mitchell at the US Department of Education, working on competency-based education, new accreditation pathways, and innovation. He also serves on the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) and on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Board on Higher Education and Workforce (and served on its Committee on Quality in Undergraduate Education). He also serves on the ACE Board and chairs the AGB Council of Presidents.

Paul immigrated to the United States as a child, was the first person in his extended family to attend college, and is a graduate of Framingham State University (BA), Boston College (MA), and the University of Massachusetts (PhD). From 1993 to 1996 he directed a technology start up for Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company, was President of Marlboro College (VT) from 1996 to 2003, and became President of SNHU in 2003. His wife Patricia is an attorney and their daughters Emma and Hannah are doctoral students. Annie, their black Labrador Retriever, studies sleeping on the couch and ways to steal food from the counter tops.

Margaret Bearman, Associate Professor (Research) within the Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning (CRADLE), Deakin University.

Margaret Bearman is an Associate Professor (Research) within the Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning (CRADLE), Deakin University. She holds a first class honours degree in computer science and a PhD in medical education. Over the course of her career in health professional and higher education, Margaret has written over 70 publications and received over $7.5 million in research and development funding. She has been formally recognised for her work as an educator and researcher, including awards from the Australian Office of Learning and Teaching and Simulation Australasia. Margaret’s interests include: assessment and feedback; simulation and digital technologies; sociomateriality; and educational workforce development. Her methodological expertise includes qualitative and quantitative research designs, as well as evidence synthesis.