Plenary Sessions


Opening Plenary Session

Thursday, October 3, 2019 | 5:15-6:15 pm

Championing Success as a Nontraditional Leader in Higher Education: Implementing Effective Leadership Practices

Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., President, Alabama State University

Administrative leadership in higher education is one of the most dynamic components in ensuring that the infrastructure continues to operate from the top down with integrity. Through continued globalization and the presence of many multi-faceted students, as well as staff, appearing at institutes of higher learning, it is imperative that the capabilities of leaders in higher education be analyzed to fit this framework (Black, 2015). Without effective leadership, stakeholders will inevitably lose faith in the institution.

Research has been conducted to reveal that an insurgency has occurred within the ranks of higher education, specifically, as it relates to university leaders and college presidents. Once upon a time the inevitable flow to the President’s seat was through tenure-track career paths, up through the provost’s office. However, as times have changed nontraditional leaders are hastily being recognized as a group of individuals with a diverse set of skills and backgrounds to lead institutions (Beardsley, 2017). To this end, the presentation will encompass areas of providing thought provoking dialogue as it relates to a nontraditional tract to the presidency based on the following tenets: developing trust with stakeholders, fostering collaborative relationships within the institution, demonstrating servant and transformational leadership, and how leaders should champion for success for students and the longevity of the institution.

About the Presenter:

 Quinton T. Ross, Jr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr.

Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., currently serves as the 15th President of Alabama State University. Prior to becoming president of his alma mater, he had begun his fourth term in the Alabama State Senate after having been elected to his first term in 2002. While serving in the Senate, Dr. Ross distinguished himself as a true statesman and was one of seven African Americans serving in the Alabama State Senate. In 2015, he was elected as the first African American male Senate Minority Leader and the first Minority Leader elected to a four-year term. During his service, Dr. Ross was an established legislative leader and an unwavering advocate for public education, issues dealing with child safety, and the general welfare of all Alabamians.

Dr. Ross is a distinguished career educator with more than 23 years of experience in K-12 public education and higher education. Ross worked in the Montgomery Public School system as a classroom teacher, administrative assistant. assistant principal and a high school Principal as well as a central office Educational Specialist. He served as the Director of Adult Education at H. Councill Trenholm State Community College. Dr. Ross later became a manager of UniServ Organizing/Staff Consultant to Higher Education for the Alabama Education Association. Ross has made it his mission to be a community advocate for public education and to help young people “grasp the light of knowledge through embracing diversity.”

Dr. Ross is a graduate of Alabama State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 1992, a Master of Arts degree in Education in 1995, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership, Policy and Law in 2010. Dr. Ross holds professional memberships in several organizations, such as the National Education Association, National Council of Higher Education, Alabama Education Association, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and 100 Black Men, Inc. His most notable accomplishment is being a loving husband and father of two sons.


Dinner Plenary Session

Friday, October 4, 2019 | 5:00-7:00 pm

Future-Ready Learning: Helping More Students Take on the Challenges of Today and Embrace the Promise of Tomorrow

Dr. Mark David Milliron, chief learning officer, Civitas Learning

The future is coming fast—faster than ever—and education has never been more necessary to open the way to personal, community, and national possibilities. However, the world of education is struggling to help more, and more diverse students get on, stay on, and succeed on their pathways through education. In this presentation, we’ll dive into explorations of five vital focus areas that will help us get ready to help our students get ready for the challenges of today and the promise of tomorrow. We’ll explore (1) embracing digital transformation in our teaching, learning, and student support infrastructures; (2) expanding the learning options for students; (3) doubling down on the importance of psycho-social factors and student agency; (4) making the most of advanced analytics platforms to focus data use on fostering a “culture of care and enrichment”; and (5) leveraging all of the above–together with strategic advocacy–to help significantly more striving and all-too-often struggling students gain access to and experience success on the pathway to possibility that is education.

About the Presenter:

 Mark David Milliron Mark David Milliron

Dr. Mark David Milliron is an award-winning leader, author, speaker, and consultant who works with universities, community colleges, K-12 schools, foundations, corporations, associations, and government agencies across the country and around the world. Milliron co-founded and serves as the chief learning officer of Civitas Learning. He also serves as executive director of the Next-Generation Leadership Academy (NGLA) and a professor of practice in the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education. In addition, Milliron helps catalyze positive change in education through his service on the boards and advisory councils of leading education organizations, including the Trellis Foundation, the Global Online Academy, the Mastery Transcript Consortium, the Hope Center for College, Community, & Justice, and ISKME/OER Commons. In previous roles, Milliron served as the deputy director for Postsecondary Success with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; founding chancellor of WGU Texas; endowed fellow and director of the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development at The University of Texas at Austin; vice president for Education and Medical Practice with SAS; and president and CEO of the League for Innovation in the Community College. Past board service includes the American Council on Education (ACE), Western Governors University (WGU), and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.


Lunch Panel Discussion

Saturday, October 5, 2019 | 11:15–1:15 pm

Academic Leadership: Future Trends and Issues

The Leadership in Higher Education advisory board will reflect on trends and themes revealed during the conference and participate in a sure-to-be lively discussion about future challenges and opportunities to lead in all institutions of higher education. Join Robert Cipriano, Tanjula Petty, Lolita Paff, Alvin Evans, Oliver Dreon, Stephanie Delaney, Edna Chun, and Jennifer Lorenzetti.