Western Academic Leadership Forum



Photo of Ruth Claire BlackRuth Claire Black leads the California State University’s systemwide initiative on centralized online and blended degree program access and delivery. Prior to her appointment as executive director of Cal State Online in 2011, Black was associate vice chancellor at Chapman University and Brandman University, where she focused on developing, marketing, and administering online and strategic partnership programs, with particular emphasis on military education programs, vocational programming, and workforce development. She has extensive experience establishing accredited online degree programs utilizing extensive student support services. Her academic and research interests focus on embedded digital text options for online courses, comparative analysis of outcomes, and student satisfaction in courses with digital content versus physical textbooks. She has a B.A. in political science from UC Irvine and a J.D. from Vanderbilt Law School.

Photo of Aaron BrowerAaron Brower has been the interim provost and vice chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Extension (UW-Extension) since 2012. He is also special assistant to UW President Kevin Reilly for new educational strategies. Brower is responsible for leadership of academic and program planning, including the UW flexible option degree. Prior to joining UW-Extension, he was UW-Madison’s vice provost for teaching and professor of social work, integrated liberal studies, and educational leadership and policy analysis. Brower earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in social work, a master’s in psychology, and doctorate in social work and psychology from the University of Michigan.

Photo of Alison BrownAlison Leigh Brown is associate vice president of academic affairs in Extended Campuses and professor of philosophy at Northern Arizona University.   She has been charged with directing the academic development of Personalized Learning.  Brown has authored four books and many articles in her field.  She has worked with faculty to develop many degree programs for time- and place-bound, highly motivated adult students.  After receiving her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Brown came to NAU in 1989 and taught various subjects including philosophy, humanities and women’s studies before joining NAU-Extended Campuses in 2000.  She was appointed to her current position in 2012.

Photo of Richard CaulfiedRichard Caulfield serves as Provost at the University of Alaska Southeast, including campuses in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. He serves on the University of Alaska Statewide Academic Council (SAC) and is responsible for ensuring that UAS academic programs are fully compliant with regional, national, and professional accreditation standards. He is actively engaged with implementing the university’s strategic and assessment goals and strategies. Prior to coming to UAS, Caulfield directed UAF’s community campus in Fairbanks, UAF Community and Technical College. Caulfield began his university teaching career in 1985 at UAF’s Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham. He served on national and international science steering committees and boards, including the NSF Oceans-Atmosphere-Ice Interactions Scientific Committee, the International Arctic Social Sciences Association, and the University of the Arctic. Caulfield earned his PhD in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

Photo of Sam GingerichSamuel (Sam) Gingerich serves as the Chief Academic Officer for the South Dakota Board of Regents working with the Board of Regents, Board staff, and institutional academic leaders to develop and to oversee academic policy for the state system.  Prior to this he served as provost at Mississippi University for Women, as interim president and as provost at Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University) and he was a faculty member and administrator at Northern State University.   Gingerich holds three degrees in chemistry: a Ph.D. from Montana State University, a master’s degree from Cornell University, and a bachelor’s degree from Goshen College.

Photo of Cori GordonCori Gordon works for Northern Arizona University, where she is the lead faculty for a competency-based, liberal arts bachelor degree. She has a Ph.D. in English education, an M.A. in theatre, and a B.S. in secondary English education. She has taught students from 6th grade through college, in subjects including English, theatre, storytelling, puppetry, literature, and composition; she specializes in digital storytelling.

Photo of Dennis JonesDennis Jones has more than 40 years of experience in research, development, technical assistance, and administration in the field of higher education management and policymaking. A member of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) staff since 1969, he assumed increasing levels of responsibility within that organization, becoming president in 1986. Under his leadership, and in collaboration with an extraordinarily talented staff, NCHEMS has achieved a position of preeminence as a leader in the development and promulgation of information-based approaches to policymaking in higher education. Jones is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and served as an administrator (in business and institutional planning) there for eight years prior to joining the NCHEMS staff. He has served as an advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education, Lumina Foundation, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and numerous other associations, policy organizations, and state agencies.

Photo of Dave KingDave King serves as associate provost at Oregon State University (OSU) and professor in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences. His responsibilities in the provost’s office include the OSU Extended Campus, Professional and Noncredit Education unit, and Extension and Experiment Station Communications Department. From 2006 to 2009, he was head of the Extension and Experiment Station Communications Department and communications program leader for OSU Extension. King has led delegations to China sponsored by the American Distance Education Consortium/U.S. Department of Agriculture on three occasions. He has a track record of international communications and distance education program development in México, Honduras, Nicaragua, Kenya, and China. King has a master’s degree from the University of Oregon in journalism and bachelor’s degree from California State University, Chico, in mass communication.

Photo of David LonganeckerDavid Longanecker has served as the president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education in Boulder since 1999. Previously, Longanecker served for six years as the assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to that he was the state higher education executive officer in Colorado and Minnesota. He was also the principal analyst for higher education for the Congressional Budget Office. Longanecker has served on numerous boards and commissions. He has written extensively on a range of higher education issues. His primary interests in higher education are: expanding access to successful completion for students within all sectors of higher education, promoting student and institutional performance, assuring efficient and effective finance and financial aid strategies, and fostering effective use of educational technologies, all for the purpose of sustaining the nation’s strength in the world and increasing the quality of life for all Americans, particularly those who have traditionally been left out in the past. He holds an Ed.D. from Stanford University, an M.A. in student personnel work from George Washington University, and a B.A. in sociology from Washington State University.

Photo of Maggi MurdockMaggi Maier Murdock was born and raised in Wyoming.  She earned her B.A. in Political Science from Creighton University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Tufts University.   Maggi has been on the University of Wyoming faculty since 1975, serving on both the UW-Laramie campus and the UW-Casper campus.  She has served as dean of the UW-Casper program, associate provost and dean of the UW Outreach School, and currently serves as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Wyoming. 

Photo of Claudia NeuhauserClaudia Neuhauser is the director of the University of Minnesota Informatics Institute program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Previously, she served at the University of Minnesota Rochester as the vice chancellor of academic affairs and student development and director of graduate studies for the Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology program. She is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, and Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor. She received her diploma in mathematics from the Universität Heidelberg (Germany) and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Cornell University. Before joining UMR in 2008, she was professor and head in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and a faculty member in Mathematics Departments at the University of Southern California, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Minnesota, and UC Davis.

Photo of Martha PotvinMartha A. Potvin has been Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Montana State University since 2011. She previously served for ten years as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Dakota. She began her career as a biology professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. During her 16 years at that institution she taught population biology, plant systematics, plant communities, wetlands and field botany while rising through the ranks to become interim dean of the university's graduate studies and extended education. Potvin, has a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Connecticut, a master's degree in botany and plant ecology from Michigan State University and a doctorate from the University of Nebraska in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Photo of Judith A. RamaleyJudith A. Ramaley is president emerita and distinguished professor of public service at Portland State University in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government. She has served as president of Winona State University (MN) and The University of Vermont. Ramaley is also a senior scholar with the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She has a special interest in the meaning and design of undergraduate education, civic and community engagement, and the leadership of change in higher education. She served as assistant director of the Directorate of Education and Human Resources (EHR) at the National Science Foundation from 2001 to 2005.

Photo of Travis ReindlTravis Reindl is a senior program officer with the U.S. program office of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, concentrating on postsecondary success through policy and advocacy. Prior to joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Reindl completed a three-year stint at the Center for Best Practices of the National Governors Association (NGA), where he oversaw the postsecondary education work area, concentrating on increasing postsecondary access and completion, finance, governance, and accountability. During his tenure at the NGA, Reindl led the 2010 to 2011 NGA Chair's Initiative, which focused on increasing college completion and productivity. Reindl holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an M.P.P. from the University of Maryland-College Park.


Photo of Jeff RosenJeff Rosen is the vice president for accreditation relations and director, Open Pathway, at the Higher Learning Commission. Rosen has worked in higher education as a research university dean, professor in an open admission art school, and trustee of a community college. From 2005 to 2011 he was dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and associate professor of art history at Loyola University Chicago, where he created programs in allied healthcare and also ran the university’s summer session, its precollegiate program, and its noncredit programs for adults. He currently serves as chair of the Leadership and Strategy Network of the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. Rosen received his Ph.D. in art history from Northwestern University; M.S. Ed. from Southern Connecticut State University; and B.A. cum laude in sociology from New York University.

Photo of Phyllis Phyllis "Teddi" Safman is the assistant commissioner for academic affairs with the Utah System of Higher Education State Board of Regents. Her responsibilities include transfer, articulation, and assessment of general education; the Tuning Project, an outgrowth of the Bologna Process, funded by Lumina Foundation; the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Liberal Education and America’s Promise ( LEAP) Initiative; the Quality Collaboratives, also Lumina-funded; and the Western Interstate Passport Initiative, funded by the Carnegie Corporation. Although a musician by former training, Safman received a Ph.D. in continuing and adult education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Safman joined the commissioner’s staff in 1993, with a short break to work in accreditation and strategic planning in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Safman currently serves on the Western Academic Leadership Forum Executive Committee.

Photo of Robert SeidmanRobert Seidman began teaching at the university level in 1969 and joined Southern New Hampshire University in 1981. Seidman is a professor of information technology and served as the Computer Information Technology Department chair from 1995 to 2003. He was the University Faculty Scholar for the 2010-11 academic year. He is the author of many journal articles and a book, Predicting the Behavior of the Education System (coauthored with Thomas F. Green, senior author, and David P. Ericson), which was hailed as the first theory of the logic and behavior of national educational systems. He serves as the executive editor of the Journal of Education Computing Research and is a fellow in the Philosophy of Education Society, a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE Computer Society, American Educational Research Association, and the American Association of Artificial Intelligence. Seidman received his bachelor of science degree from Rutgers University and his master of science and doctorate of philosophy degrees from Syracuse University’s School of Computer and Information Science. His latest Wiley/Jossey-Bass book is Saving Higher Education: The Integrated, Competency-Based Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program.

Photo of Jane ShermanJane C. Sherman is the vice provost for academic policy and evaluation at Washington State University, where she directs institutional planning for internal and external Accountability, Assessment, and Accreditation initiatives, as well as overseeing several academic program areas. Prior to her work at WSU, Sherman was the Deputy Director for Academic Affairs with the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB). She has also held administrative positions with the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Idaho State Council on Developmental Disabilities, and the College of Idaho. She has held faculty positions at Idaho State University and the College of Idaho, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in counseling and education. Sherman's educational credentials include a B.A. in History from Earlham College, an M.Ed. in Counseling from Boston University, and an Ed.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education from Idaho State University.

Photo of Peter SmithPeter P. Smith is the senior vice president of academic strategies and development for Kaplan Higher Education where he is responsible for the development of mid-term strategies and program development. Smith is the former assistant director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and served as the founding president of California State University at Monterey Bay (CSUMB). In 1989 he was elected as a representative from Vermont to the U.S. House of Representatives. Smith served as Vermont’s lieutenant governor from 1982-1986. He also served as the first president of the statewide Community College of Vermont from and was named President Emeritus upon resigning. Smith holds a Doctor of Education from Harvard University.


Photo of Mark WheelerMark Wheeler is the dean of extended studies at Boise State University. He works to extend higher education beyond traditional boundaries. Programs include Boise State eCampus, several off-campus sites, the Center for Professional Development, Boise State AfterWork, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, summer and intersession programs, and concurrent enrollment programs in high schools. In addition to providing educational opportunities, these extended studies programs have spurred innovation at the university and engaged communities. Previously, Wheeler served in other Boise State roles: dean of enrollment services, interim vice president for student affairs, director of admissions, and interim registrar. He started his career as an admissions and financial aid counselor at Lewis-Clark State College. Wheeler has a B.A. in English and a master of public administration from Boise State University.

Photo of Ralph WolffRalph Wolff joined the staff of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission in 1981 and served as its president from 1996 through August 2013. He currently serves as senior advisor. Before his appointment to WASC, Wolff was one of the founders of the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., the nation's most innovative law school, with its focus on preparing lawyers for public interest and poverty law; he was responsible for helping it achieve accreditation. He later moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, to become dean of the Antioch Graduate School of Education, where he oversaw a diverse range of innovative programs in Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas, and Colorado. As associate provost of Antioch College, he was responsible for establishing quality assurance systems for its 28 centers. A graduate of Tufts University, Wolff received his J.D. with honors from the National Law Center at George Washington University. He is currently a Fellow of Meridian International, a global think tank, and a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.