Key Session Speakers
Robert A. Brown
Robert A. Brown, a distinguished chemical engineer and educator, became president of Boston University in September 2005. As president, Brown emphasizes the continued improvement of academic quality in all domains through the establishment of clear priorities, benchmarking and periodic review.
He works to underscore the central importance and interrelationship of teaching and research, with particular focus on stimulating interdisciplinary study and spanning all the university’s disciplines and programs. A key interdisciplinary effort is the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College that gives the university’s best students opportunities to explore broadly using the full range of programs offered at BU.
Early in his presidency, Brown initiated an 18-month planning process that culminated in the 10-year strategic plan, Choosing to be Great, that articulates Boston University’s core values embedded in a set of institutional commitments. This plan defines goals for establishing Boston University as one of the great research universities in the world. In 2012, the university was invited to join the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization of the 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.
A Texas native, he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota, where he worked under the guidance of Professor L. E. Scriven. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, among other professional societies.
Prior to his appointment at Boston University, Brown was provost and Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the MIT faculty in 1979, beginning a distinguished career in education and research. He has published more than 250 papers in areas related to mathematical modeling of transport phenomena in materials and served as executive editor of the Journal of Chemical Engineering Science from 1991 to 2004. In 2008, he was named one of the top 100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Nancy Cantor is chancellor of Rutgers University – Newark. A distinguished leader in higher education, she is recognized nationally and internationally as an advocate for leveraging diversity in all its dimensions, reemphasizing the public mission of colleges and universities as engines of discovery, innovation and social mobility, and achieving the fulsome potential of universities as anchor institutions that collaborate with partners from all sectors to help their communities thrive.
As a social psychologist, she has focused on understanding how individuals perceive and think about their social worlds, pursue personal goals and regulate their behavior to adapt to life's most challenging social environments. Cantor lectures and writes extensively on the role of universities as anchor institutions in their communities, along with other crucial issues in higher education such as rewarding public scholarship, sustainability, liberal education and the creative campus, the status of women in the academy, and racial justice and diversity.
A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and member of the National Academy of Medicine, she previously led Syracuse University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was provost at the University of Michigan, where she was closely involved in the defense of affirmative action in 2003 Supreme Court cases Grutter and Gratz. She is co-editor with Earl Lewis of the Our Compelling Interests book series published by the Princeton University Press, with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She has received the Robert Zemsky Medal for Innovation in Higher Education; American Council on Education Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award; Frank W. Hale, Jr. Diversity Leadership Award from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education; Anti-Defamation League Woman of Achievement Award; National Council for Research on Women Making a Difference for Women Award; and 2008 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award.
Susan Cain is the chief revolutionary of Quiet Revolution and the author of the bestsellers Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which has been translated into 40 languages, is in its sixth year on the New York Times best seller list, and was named the #1 best book of the year by Fast Company magazine, which also named Cain one of its Most Creative People in Business. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed more than 20 million times and was named by Bill Gates one of his all-time favorite talks. Cain has also spoken at Microsoft, Google, the U.S. Treasury, the S.E.C., Harvard, Yale, West Point and the US Naval Academy.
She received Harvard Law School’s Celebration Award for Thought Leadership, the Toastmasters International Golden Gavel Award for Communication and Leadership, and was named one of the world’s top 50 Leadership and Management Experts by Inc. Magazine. She is an honors graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School.
Sue Cunningham is president and CEO of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), which supports more than 3,600 schools, colleges and universities worldwide in developing their alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing operations in order to advance their institutions. As CASE president and CEO, she provides strategic and operational leadership for one of the largest associations of education-related institutions in the world with members in more than 80 countries. She became president of CASE in March, 2015.
Cunningham engaged CASE and thousands of its volunteers in a comprehensive strategic planning process resulting in Reimagining CASE: 2017- 2021, an ambitious and comprehensive framework for serving CASE’s members and championing education worldwide. This volunteer and member engagement extends into a comprehensive effort to refine CASE’s governance structure to more effectively support CASE’s global reach and service to members.
Under her leadership CASE acquired the Voluntary Support of Education survey and created AMAtlas. CASE has reinvigorated its global advocacy agenda and is engaged in reviews of the curriculum across all advancement disciplines and an update of CASE’s management and reporting standards and guidelines, which operate as the industry-leading set of standards. She is most proud of CASE’s efforts to diversify the advancement professions and CASE’s commitment to talent management, within the organization and across CASE’s membership.
Cunningham serves on the steering committee of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, is a member of the Council of Higher Education Management Associations, the International Women’s Foundation, and serves on the fundraising committee for the Aurora Foundation.
Prior to CASE, she served as vice-principal for advancement at the University of Melbourne and as the director of development for the University of Oxford. She served as director of development at Christ Church, Oxford, and as director of external relations at St. Andrews University.
She is an honorary fellow of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a recipient of the CASE Europe Distinguished Service Award, and is a CASE Crystal Apple Award recipient. She holds a master’s degree from Oxford University and a bachelor’s degree in performing arts from Middlesex University.
Wil Del Pilar
Wil Del Pilar serves as Ed Trust’s vice president of higher education policy and practice. In this role, he spearheads Ed Trust’s mission to highlight inequities and outline solutions in order to improve access, success, affordability, and completion in higher education for low-income students and students of color.
Prior to joining Ed Trust, he served in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration as deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education, where he developed and implemented the state’s strategic vision for higher education. Before joining Governor Wolf’s team, he had experience in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, working as an executive assistant in the state’s higher education office. In this role, he managed an array of services for the state, including the College Access Challenge Grant and the Pennsylvania Information Management System.
Aside from working for Pennsylvania’s Department of Education in higher education policy roles, Del Pilar has held senior development positions, as the director of development at Pennsylvania State University and at the University of Florida’s Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. In both positions, he fought to secure funding to support access and success initiatives for historically underrepresented students.
In addition to his policy and development experience, he has a wealth of institutional experience, working in admissions at Chapman University in Orange, California, and the University of California Santa Cruz, as a financial aid counselor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and as a research assistant at Penn State.
Del Pilar holds a doctorate in higher education/higher education administration from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree from California State University-Dominguez Hills, and a bachelor’s degree from Chapman University.
Fernando León-García has been president of CETYS University since 2010, leading the institution to institutional and program accreditation in the United States (WASC, ACBSP, ABET), and one of the highest student mobility rates in Mexico. Prior to that, he served as chancellor of City University of Seattle‘s International Division, covering programs, campuses and sites across the Americas, Europe and Asia. Before joining City University, he served as chief academic officer of Apollo International/University of Phoenix International. From 1974 to 2000, he served in diverse capacities at CETYS including chief academic officer/ provost.
León-García serves on several boards and/or advisory groups related to international higher education, accreditation, governance and institutional development including the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), Council of Presidents of the Association of Governing Boards (AGB), Commission on Internationalization/Global Engagement of the American Council on Education (ACE), Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), CONAHEC (Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration), Universia-Mexico and Mexican Federation of Private Universities (FIMPES). He is president-elect of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP).
León-García holds a doctorate in educational administration and policy analysis and a master's degree in international development education from Stanford University, as well as a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from CETYS University.
David Leonhardt is an Op-Ed columnist at The New York Times. Prior to joining the Opinion department, Mr. Leonhardt was the founding editor of The Upshot section, which emphasizes data visualization and graphics to offer an analytical approach to the day's news. Mr. Leonhardt has also served as Washington bureau chief and wrote “Economic Scene,” a weekly economics column, for the Business section. In 2011, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his columns.
In 2013, he wrote "Here's the Deal: How Washington Can Solve the Deficit and Spur Growth," an e-book co-published by Byliner and The Times.
Mr. Leonhardt has also worked as a staff writer and contributor for The New York Times Magazine and the Economix blog. In 2005, he was one of the reporters who produced “Class Matters,” the paper’s series on social class in the United States. In 2004, he founded an analytical sports column called “Keeping Score.”
Before joining The Times in 1999, he worked for Business Week magazine and The Washington Post.
Mr. Leonhardt won the Gerald Loeb Award for magazine writing in 2009 for a Times Magazine article, “Obamanomics.” He was part of a team of Times reporters whose coverage of corporate scandals was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2003.
Born in New York in 1973, Mr. Leonhardt studied applied mathematics at Yale. He is a third-generation native of New York.
Ijeoma Oluo is a Seattle-based writer, speaker and internet yeller. Her work on social issues such as race and gender has been published in The Guardian, The Stranger, the Washington Post, ELLE magazine, NBC News and more. She has been the editor at large at The Establishment since 2015.
Her New York Times bestselling first book, So You Want To Talk About Race, was released January 2018 with Seal Press. Oluo was named one of the Most Influential People in Seattle by Seattle Magazine, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Seattle by Seattle Met, one of The Root's 100 Most Influential Americans in 2017 and 2018. She is the recipient of the Feminist Humanist Award 2018 by the American Humanist Association, the Media Justice Award by the Gender Justice League, and the 2018 Aubrey Davis Visionary Leadership Award by the Equal Opportunity Institute.
Carolyn J. Stefanco has been president of The College of Saint Rose, a master’s comprehensive in Albany, New York, since 2014. Under her leadership, the college has launched innovative student success programs and 10 new degrees in high-demand fields. Expanded student recruiting efforts have resulted in the most diverse first-year classes in the institution’s history, and the student body now represents 34 American states and 61 countries. Stefanco was awarded a Helen Gurley Brown Genius Grant in 2018 for her visionary leadership, and the college was invited to join the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network. Recent gifts of $2.3 million are funding women’s leadership initiatives, including a new Women’s Leadership Institute.
She joined the college after serving as vice president for academic affairs at Agnes Scott College, as the founding dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at California State University, Stanislaus, and as professor, department chair and women’s studies program director at California Polytechnic State University.
Stefanco was a Senior Fulbright Scholar to the University of Zagreb in Croatia, served as resident director of a London Study Program, and is a trustee of the American University in Bulgaria and a member of the board of directors of the International Leadership Association. She participates at the national level in many American higher education associations, and she serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. In the Capital Region of New York, she is a director of Albany Medical Center, an executive board member of Hearst’s Women@Work, and a member of the board of directors for the Center for Economic Growth, where she chairs the work group on Interactive Technology.
She earned a doctorate in history from Duke University, a master's degree in women’s history from Binghamton University, and a bachelor's degree in history and a women’s studies certificate from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Global technology ethnographer Tricia Wang helps companies innovate and grow by integrating big data—all that you know about your customers and your market—with thick data, the human element that is invisible to quantitative data analysis. She is the cofounder of Sudden Compass, a firm that helps companies leverage data to move at the speed of their customers. Past clients they have included Fortune 500 companies to tech start-ups such as Proctor and Gamble to Spotify. She also co-founded Magpie Kingdom, a consultancy that advises companies on how to build off of cultural innovation in China and publishing their popular newsletter on youth and internet culture. She is a recognized leading authority on digital transformation, operationalizing data science, customer experience and ethics of personal data usage in artificial intelligence. In addition to her work in industry, she has spent decades researching youth culture, social media and Chinese internet culture.
On the platform, Wang is a warm and natural speaker, a creative and expressive storyteller. Her work resonates with a wide audience, from C-Suite leaders to data scientists to designers to marketers and to university students.
Kim Wilcox was appointed UC Riverside’s ninth chancellor in August 2013. As UC Riverside’s chief executive officer, Wilcox oversees a campus community of more than 24,000 students, 930 faculty members, and 4,800 academic and administrative staff members.
During his tenure, UC Riverside has become the nation’s fastest rising university, and has seen transformative growth across its education, research and public service missions, as well as the establishment of new schools of medicine and public policy. Guided by UC Riverside’s long-term strategic plan, Wilcox has initiated an ambitious effort to grow the faculty and the campus’s physical facilities.
Over the last four years, UCR has grown its faculty by more than 200, including two Nobel Laureates, while increasing the racial, ethnic and gender diversity among incoming faculty members. Likewise, UCR has added or renovated more than 100,000 square feet of building space on campus since 2013, most notably the Multidiscipline Research Building, with another $1 billion in capital projects underway.
In his time at the school, UC Riverside has become a national model for achieving student success, particularly across socio-economic and ethnic categories. In the past five years, four-year graduation rates at UC Riverside have increased by 16 percent and six-year rates by 5 percent. UC Riverside is one of the few institutions nationwide that has eliminated graduation-rate gaps across income levels and ethnicity. Research and economic development funding have increased by nearly $50 million in this timeframe.