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Season 2, Episode 8 - Beyond the Pandemic: System Leaders on Driving Student Success

Transcript | Duration: 24:20

About This Episode:

The complexity and challenges of the pandemic have posed extraordinary shifts to education as we have known it. Unique opportunities have risen out of the stay-at-home orders and the shift to remote learning, presenting a transformative time for postsecondary leaders. A number of these changes would have never been envisioned pre-pandemic, but rapidly becoming welcomed additions to our institutions. Higher Ed Rewired meets with three system leaders, California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro, Commissioner of Higher Education for the state of Texas Harrison Keller and Commissioner of Higher Education for the state of Louisiana Kim Hunter Reed, and asks what have they gleaned from the pandemic and what they envision for the future of higher education.


Featured on This Episode:

Dr. Joseph I. Castro serves as the eighth chancellor to lead the California State University. He is the first Californian to be appointed president of California State University, Fresno. As the grandson of immigrants from Mexico and the son of a single mother, he was the first in his family to graduate from a university.

Castro is a professor of Educational Leadership and a gifted scholar in the fields of leadership and public policy who has mentored hundreds of other scholars and practitioners, including many university presidents and senior officers.

Prior to his appointment as president of Fresno State in 2013, Castro worked in the University of California system for 23 years. He was vice chancellor of Student Academic Affairs and professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) from 2006-13. Earlier in his career, he held faculty and/or administrative leadership positions at four other University of California campuses—Berkeley, Davis, Merced and Santa Barbara.

Castro's leadership has been recognized by many different organizations. In 2019, on behalf of Fresno State, he received his fifth Excellence and Innovation Award from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. In 2018, he was named CSU President of the Year by the California State Student Association and City of Fresno District 4 Man of the Year. In 2017, he received the Mayor of Fresno's Community Partnership Award. In 2016, he received the Alumni Excellence in Education Award from the Stanford University Graduate School of Education and the Ohtli Award, which is the highest honor granted by the government of Mexico to leaders in the United States.


Dr. Kim Hunter Reed is Louisiana's Commissioner of Higher Education and currently serving as a Senior Fellow for the National Association of System Heads (NASH).  She is the only female in the country currently serving as a state higher education lead who has led higher education in more than one state. Reed was recently recognized nationally with the 2020 Exceptional Leader Award by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO).

Working with the Louisiana Board of Regents, Reed is leading the state's efforts to increase educational attainment by developing its talent base to result in a more prosperous Louisiana. To reach the state's goal of doubling the number of credentials awarded by 2030, she focuses on collaborative efforts that increase access, equity and completion in line with the Regents' talent imperative.

Reed is a nationally recognized student advocate with extensive higher education and government experience. In addition to leading the Colorado Department of Higher Education, she served in President Barack Obama's administration as deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education and led the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Collectively, Reed has served in various senior leadership roles with four governors.

A Lake Charles native, Reed chaired Louisiana's higher education transition team in 2015 and served as the state's policy director. She also served as chief of staff and deputy commissioner for public affairs for the Louisiana Board of Regents, adjunct faculty member and executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System.

Reed received a doctorate in Public Policy from Southern University, as well as a master's degree in Public Administration and a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Louisiana State University.
Reed is a wife, proud volleyball mom to her favorite Millsaps College student and Louisiana's chief advocate for talent development.


Dr. Harrison Keller is the Commissioner of Higher Education for the state of Texas. He is a sixth-generation Texan with more than two decades of experience in educational budget and policy, digital learning, senior university administration, management, fundraising and building effective coalitions among school districts, community colleges, universities, systems and policymakers.

Keller is a recognized innovator in policy and programs to improve college readiness and student success, especially for low-income and first-generation students. He is the founder and was Principal Investigator of the OnRamps dual enrollment initiative that provides college-level courses to tens of thousands of high school students across the state of Texas, and the Texas OnCourse initiative that works with Governor Greg Abbott's Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative to improve secondary college and career advising across the state.

He came to the Coordinating Board from The University of Texas at Austin, where he was deputy to the President for Strategy and Policy and a professor of Practice.  Keller also served at UT Austin as vice provost for Higher Education Policy and Research, and executive director of the Office of Educational Innovation and the Center for Teaching and Learning. Prior to coming to UT Austin, Keller was director of Research for the Texas House of Representatives and senior education advisor for the Speaker of the Texas House.

Keller has taught at Georgetown University, St. Edward's University and the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University. He and his wife, Gena Nivens Keller, live in Austin with their three children.


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