Arthur E. Keiser, Ph.D., Chairperson (House Republican)
Arthur Keiser is Chancellor of Keiser University and Chairman of the Board of Southeastern College. Dr. Keiser has served the higher education industry in various capacities for nearly 40 years. He served as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU). Dr. Keiser is a former member of the Jacob K. Javits Fellows Program Fellowship Board. He served as elected Chairperson and Board Member of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). He was appointed by the Governor of Florida to the State Board of Independent Colleges and Universities and the State Board of Independent Postsecondary, Vocational, Technical, Trade and Business Schools. Dr. Keiser has also served as President of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges (FAPSC). Dr. Keiser earned his doctorate in Higher Education Administration at the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Kathleen Sullivan Alioto, Ed.D. (House Democrat)
Kathleen Sullivan Alioto is a Consultant who enables philanthropic, corporate, political, and educational leaders to make a genuine impact on students’ lives. She brings a depth and scope of knowledge, critical understanding, and vision that only experience with education’s myriad challenges can provide. In 1967 she began teaching at an innovative public school in Harlem, continuing her career in Boston where in addition to her success working with emotionally disturbed students and their parents she took on a school system desperately in need of reform. This led to her election as a member and, ultimately, as President of the School Board during Boston’s Desegregation Crisis. She earned a Doctorate in Education from Harvard and has since persisted in fighting for diverse, low-income families; prioritizing needs, strategically identifying opportunities to meet those needs, and finding essential support to improve school systems and community colleges.
Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis (House Democrat)
Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis was unanimously appointed by the Board of Trustees as the 14th President of Benedict College. She is the first female President in the 147-year history of the College. Dr. Artis served as the 13th and first female President of Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida.
In 2019, Dr. Artis was named Diverse: Issues in Higher Education’s Top 35 Leading Women in Higher Education, and the 2019 Educator of the Year by the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. In 2020, Dr. Artis was named President of the Year by Higher Ed Dive for her leadership in navigating the unprecedented challenges of 2020.
Dr. Artis is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, where she earned a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy. She also holds a Juris Doctorate from West Virginia University College of Law, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political science from sister HBCU, West Virginia State University. The consummate professional, Dr. Artis also holds a Certificate of fundraising Management from Indiana University and a Certificate of Mastery in Prior Learning Assessment from DePaul University.
Dr. Artis is a member of the Presidents’ Advisory Board for Title III Administrators, the Educational Testing Service Presidents’ Advisory Council, and is a Member of the Board of Directors for the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Board of Directors for the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). She also serves as a Board Member for Forum on Education Abroad and the Yes, We Must Coalition. Dr. Artis is a member of the National Black MBA Advisory Council and has been named an “Equity in Energy Ambassador” for the United States Department of Energy.
Jennifer L. Blum, Esq. (House Republican)
Jennifer Blum is an attorney with her own recently established law and policy firm focused on higher education, Blum Higher Education Advising, PLLC. Previously, Ms. Blum was the senior vice president of Government Relations at Laureate Education, Inc., a global higher education company. Prior to joining Laureate, Ms. Blum spent 11 years at the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (now Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP), where she was vice-chair of the government and regulatory affairs group and a member of the firm’s higher education practice.
In higher education policy, her responsibilities have included the development of policy positions for her employers and clients, with representations before U.S. Government and states, as well as before other interested parties on both domestic and international education matters. She has particularly focused on understanding the Higher Education Act’s impact on accreditation, institutional accountability and outcomes. Ms. Blum has also developed significant experience on U.S. and state legislative and regulatory matters affecting distance education, student financial aid and state authorization.
Ms. Blum served as a negotiator during the U.S. Department of Education’s most recent negotiated rulemaking on gainful employment and has previously supported clients during other education regulatory processes. She has also served as a presenter and guest panelist at various conferences and forums held by accrediting agencies, education-related think tanks, and trade associations.
Ms. Blum earned a JD from the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a BA in political science from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
Dr. Wallace E. Boston (Education Department)
Dr. Wallace E. Boston is President of the American Public University System (APUS). He joined APUS in 2002. During his tenure, APUS grew from 3,000 students to more than 80,000, increasing to over 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. 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, the parent company of APUS, to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange.
In addition to his service as a board member of APUS, 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, and a board member of 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 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. Dr. Boston will retire in 2020 from APUS and in recognition of his years of accomplishments, the Board of Trustees have bestowed him with the title of President Emeritus.
Jill Derby, Ph.D. (Senate Democrat)
Jill Derby is a cultural anthropologist by background and training. Dr. Derby is currently the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani in Kurdistan, and Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities. Dr. Derby served as an adjunct faculty member in two Nevada colleges. She also served 18 years on the Nevada Board of Regents – the governing board of the Nevada System of Higher Education – filling three terms as board chair. She currently is a governance consultant for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.
David A. Eubanks, Ph.D. (Education Department)
David A. Eubanks is the Assistant Vice President for Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness at Furman University. He has served at several private colleges or universities over a nearly thirty-year career in higher education in faculty and administrative roles. During that time he developed software for student engagement and success, served on numerous regional accreditation committees, served on various organizational boards related to education, and co-founded a journal on analyzing writing assessment data. He researches and publishes on student success in higher education, and the methodologies involved.
He holds a Doctorate degree in Mathematics from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
D. Michael Lindsay, Ph.D. (Education Department)
D. Michael Lindsay serves as the eighth president of Gordon College. His tenure at Gordon has coincided with record years of opportunity and growth for the campus. Since his appointment in 2011, Gordon has experienced banner years in terms of fundraising, campus diversity, sponsored research, athletic success and faith expression on campus. In 2019 Gordon College received an anonymous gift of $75.5 million directed to the school’s endowment and to fund student scholarships. The gift is the largest in Gordon’s history and the largest donation given to a Christian liberal arts college. President Lindsay is gratified to be working alongside talented colleagues and regards the College’s gains during his tenure as evidence of a winning team.
Prior to arriving at Gordon, President Lindsay was a member of the sociology faculty at Rice University, where he won multiple awards both for his teaching and his scholarly research. The author of two dozen scholarly publications, Dr. Lindsay’s Faith in the Halls of Power was nominated for the nonfiction Pulitzer Prize in 2007. His most recent book, View from the Top, won two awards and has been translated into Chinese and Japanese. As a scholar and educational leader, President Lindsay has lectured on six continents and works tirelessly to create opportunities worldwide for Gordon students, faculty, and staff. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University and graduate theological degrees from Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University and Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Baylor University where he has been named Outstanding Young Alumnus. He has been married for twenty-five years to Rebecca, a writer and speaker who serves as Gordon’s Ambassador for the College. They are the proud parents of three daughters: Elizabeth (16), Caroline (10) and Emily (10). The Lindsays live on the Gordon campus, which allows them to regularly cheer on the Fighting Scots.
Molly E. Hall Martin (Student Member)
Molly E. Hall-Martin (Kul Wicasa Oyate/Lower Brule Lakota) is a Ph.D. student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at the University of Iowa. She has formerly served as the Director of Student Preparation & Success for the South Dakota Board of Regents, as a staff member at Lower Brule Community College, and as an intern at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). Her research focuses on the implementation and impact of higher education policy, especially as it pertains to Indigenous students. She also studies the policies and politics surrounding Confucius Institutes, higher education governance, governing boards, and state agencies. Molly holds a bachelor’s degree in American Indian Studies from the University of North Carolina and a master’s degree in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Oklahoma.
Robert Mayes (House Republican)
Mr. Robert Mayes serves as Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Southern Education Group, the parent company of Columbia Southern University (CSU) and Waldorf University. He has more than 25 years of experience in distance education and holds an MBA from Capella University.
He assisted his family in the founding of Columbia Southern University, an online university headquartered in Orange Beach, Alabama, in 1993. He transitioned to the role of president of CSU in 2005 and served until May 2018. During this time, the University grew from 7000 students to 30,000. He was awarded the title president emeritus on May 1, 2018 for his contributions and impact on the University. Mayes also led the acquisition of Waldorf University (previously Waldorf College) in Forest City, Iowa in 2010, a task that included achieving approvals from the U.S. Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission.
He is chairman of the board of directors for South Baldwin Christian Academy. He serves as a board member of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals Foundation, the Business Council of Alabama, Columbia Southern University Board of Trustees, and Waldorf University Board of Trustees. He is a member of the Coalition for Student Opportunity and Success. He served eight years on the board of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission board of directors and served on its executive, finance and nominating committees. In 2017, he was awarded the Distance Education Accrediting Commission’s Distinguished Service Award and was a Boy Scouts of America Golden Eagle Honoree. In 2019, he was named the Distance Education Accrediting Commission’s Person of the Year.
Mary Ellen Petrisko, Ph.D. (Education Department)
Mary Ellen Petrisko served most recently as the fifth President of the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Prior to that position, she was Vice President of Institutional Field Relations at the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Other positions held include Deputy Secretary of Higher Education, Maryland Higher Education Commission; Vice President Academic Affairs University of Maryland University College (now University of Maryland Global Campus); and Vice President Academic Affairs, Tai Sophia Institute (now Maryland University of Integrative Health). She has held teaching positions in philosophy at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands (tenured) and the University of Maryland University College (adjunct). She has also served as a higher education and accreditation consultant to a number of institutions and organizations nationally and internationally.
Dr. Petrisko currently chairs the board of the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, NM. She is a member of the National Advisory Panel of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment and of the Quality Assurance Advisory Group of Credential Engine. She holds a PhD in Philosophy from Boston University and BA and MA degrees in Philosophy from Duquesne University.
Dr. Michael Poliakoff (Senate Republican)
Michael Poliakoff is the president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). Dr. Poliakoff served previously as Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education during the administration of Governor Tom Ridge; Director of Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities; and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research at the University of Colorado. He has taught classical studies at Georgetown University, George Washington University, George Mason University, Hillsdale College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Wellesley College. He received his B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University and went on to study at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where he earned Class I Honours in Literae Humaniores. He received his Ph.D. in classical studies at the University of Michigan. He has been a junior fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies, and his research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and the Alexander Von Humboldt Stiftung. His publications include Combat Sports in the Ancient World: Competition, Violence, and Culture, published by Yale University Press, and articles in professional journals of classical studies, as well as numerous higher education reports and policy papers. Dr. Poliakoff received the American Philological Association’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Distinguished Service to Education Award.
Dr. Claude O. Pressnell Jr., (Senate Republican)
Dr. Claude Pressnell, Jr., President, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, is a native of Kansas, has spent nearly 30 years in higher education administration. He began his career at Southwest Baptist University in Missouri as an admission recruiter; within a year advanced to the position of Senior Director of Admissions and Student Development. He holds a doctorate in higher education administration/educational leadership from Vanderbilt University. While attending Vanderbilt he served as the Director of Financial Assistance and Assistant Professor of Religion at Belmont University. In 1995 he served as the Founding Executive Director of the Institute for Family Studies in Colorado. Pressnell soon returned to Tennessee to become the Executive Director of the Tennessee Foundation for Independent Colleges and since 2000 has served as President of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association. In 2003 the United States Senate appointed Pressnell to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance where he served as Vice Chair from 2007 until his second and final term expired in 2008. In 2007, he testified before Congress on higher education policy issues. The Committee serves as an independent source of advice and counsel to the United States Congress and the Secretary of Education on student aid issues and higher education policy. In June of 2011, Pressnell was selected for a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to develop the student financing policy for the Government of the Maldives. The policy and funding mechanisms were adopted by the Maldivian Parliament in 2012. In August of 2013, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed Pressnell as a Commissioner representing the state’s interests on the Education Commission of the States. In 2014 Pressnell was appointed by four US Senators to serve on a committee to recommend a pathway to reduce the federal regulatory burden on higher education in the United States. Pressnell serves on numerous international, national, and state level boards. He also has served as an international advisor on higher education reform in the Middle East, the Balkan region of Europe and South America.
Robert Shireman (House Democrat)
Robert Shireman is director of higher education excellence and senior fellow at The Century Foundation working on education policy with a focus on affordability, quality assurance, and consumer protections. He served in the Clinton White House as a senior policy advisor to the National Economic Council, and in the Obama administration as deputy undersecretary of education. In 2004 he founded The Institute for College Access & Success, and in 2011 launched the policy organization California Competes.
In his various roles since 1989 Shireman has led successful efforts to reform student loans, streamline the financial aid process, promote campus diversity, and protect consumers from predatory colleges. He has shepherded the evolution of the nation’s income-based student loan repayment system from its initial adoption in 1992 to its expansion and improvement by President Barack Obama. He organized the federal response to emerging signs of predatory for-profit career training in 2009, leading to a widely discussed set of regulatory reforms and enforcement actions. Shireman’s analysis of local needs in California prompted changes in the funding formula for that state’s community colleges, following on his earlier work to improve the ethnic and economic diversity of California’s private colleges. He led an effort that significantly simplified the process of applying for federal college aid, and pressed for and ultimately won the elimination of costly middlemen from the federal loan programs so that more grant aid could be made available to low-income students.
Under Shireman’s leadership, in 2018 The Century Foundation won a contract with the State of California to develop recommendations for reforming the state’s approach to college affordability. In addition to his role at Century, Shireman serves on the board of uAspire, a national nonprofit that helps low-income students find quality, affordable college options, and The Opportunity Institute, an education policy think tank.
Shireman holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley, a Master’s in Education from Harvard, and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Zakiya Smith Ellis, Ph.D. (Senate Democrat)
Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis most recently served as Chief Policy Advisor to Governor Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey, where she was responsible for developing and directing the Governor’s policy initiatives in coordination with the Cabinet. She first served in the Murphy administration as New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education, where she was responsible for policy development and coordination of higher education activities for the state. During her tenure, Dr. Smith Ellis led the development of a state plan for higher education that includes a vision for a Student Bill of Rights and a first-in-the-state equity-focused outcomes- based funding formula for the states senior public colleges and universities. She also led the development of new tuition-free college initiatives with affordability guarantees.
Prior to her work in New Jersey, Dr. Smith Ellis led the Washington, DC office of Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest foundation focused solely on higher education, where she led work to advance federal policy to increase attainment and to develop new postsecondary finance models, focused on affordability. Prior to her work in philanthropy, Smith served in the Obama administration in policy roles at both the White House Domestic Policy Council and the U. S. Department of Education, where she was tasked with helping to develop President Obama’s higher education policy.
Before transitioning to work as a political appointee, Zakiya served as Director of Government Relations for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, where she authored reports on the efficacy of financial advising in college access programs, community college transfer and articulation, and the ability of low- and moderate- income families to afford college.
Earlier in her career, Zakiya worked directly with students in various capacities across the K-12 system, and her goal is to always bring those insights to her current work. She worked on staff in various capacities for Teach For America, helping to train new teachers, and for the federal GEAR UP program in East Boston, Massachusetts, providing college preparation and financial aid information to high school students. Smith Ellis was introduced to federal policy as an intern on Capitol Hill with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, working for her former hometown (Decatur, GA) Congresswoman.
Dr. Smith Ellis has been featured on C-SPAN and Fox Business News, profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Diverse Issues in Higher Education, published in the Washington Post and was twice named to Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30. She has served on the board of directors for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and currently chairs the Board of the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS).
Dr. Smith Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and secondary education from Vanderbilt University, a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned distinction for both the written dissertation and oral defense.
Steven Van Ausdle, Ph.D. (Senate Democrat)
Steven VanAusdle served as president of Walla Walla Community College since 1984 and was named President Emeritus in 2016 when he retired. Walla Walla Community College won the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence under his leadership in 2013. VanAusdle served six years as a Commissioner for the Northwest Accrediting Association on Colleges and Universities. While on the Commission, he served as a member or chair of ten evaluation visits.
VanAusdle served on the Nation’s Competitiveness Council and as Vice President of the Washington State Economic Development Commission. The National Journal named Walla Walla Community College one of the top 50 innovators in the U.S. and one of four finalists in the Regional Economic Strategies Category in recognition of his efforts toward successfully “reinventing a regional economy”. In 2011 the White House honored VanAusdle as a “Champion of Change” for his efforts in building stronger communities and a stronger nation. He earned a Bachelor and Master’s degree from Washington State University and a doctoral degree from The Ohio State University in 1980.