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The Higher Edge

Education Podcasts

Welcome to “The Higher Edge” – a podcast for the brightest minds in higher education to hear from the change makers and rule breakers that are driving meaningful, impactful change for students, faculty, staff, and administrators across the country. Join award-winning education executive and your host, Brendan Aldrich, to hear from today’s industry leaders as they share the stories and experiences that are shaping forward-thinking institutions. From improving operations to supporting student success, this is where you’ll learn proven recommendations and actionable tips that will give you, “The Higher Edge”.


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Welcome to “The Higher Edge” – a podcast for the brightest minds in higher education to hear from the change makers and rule breakers that are driving meaningful, impactful change for students, faculty, staff, and administrators across the country. Join award-winning education executive and your host, Brendan Aldrich, to hear from today’s industry leaders as they share the stories and experiences that are shaping forward-thinking institutions. From improving operations to supporting student success, this is where you’ll learn proven recommendations and actionable tips that will give you, “The Higher Edge”.




Founding a Nationwide University System for Democracy and Social Justice

In 2019, Bill Groves">Bill Groves, Chancellor of Antioch University">Antioch University, and the school’s board agreed that affiliation was key to advancing their mission of social justice. Their search for a sister school ultimately led them to their very own backyard in Ohio as John Comerford">John Comerford, President of Otterbein University">Otterbein University, and his peers answered the call. Together, these institutions are forming a perfect partnership built on strengthening the...


People and the Art of Change in Higher Education IT

As a young man, Joe Moreau">Joe Moreau dreamed of a career in the arts. But an early job in media production at a small university planted the seed for his love of higher education. After a rewarding journey as a Chief Information Officer, Joe is now in a Senior Consultant role with HIGHER DIGITAL">HIGHER DIGITAL. And, today, he’s still on a mission to propel higher ed into the digital age, including by helping advance the State of California’s Community College systems. In this...


Innovating the Community College Mission

Higher ed institutions rose to the challenge of accelerating innovation during the pandemic. And schools like Chemeketa Community College">Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, are riding that momentum to give working adults a boost in their career trajectories. Jessica Howard">Jessica Howard, President and CEO of Chemeketa, talks about their Bachelor of Applied Sciences program, an offering unique to the community college landscape. With this blend of traditional and polytechnic...


Data is the Fulcrum to Pivot 2023 Higher Ed Trends

Predicting the future is never easy. However we can make some educated guesses on what the Higher Education space will see and have to do to stay competitive in 2023. I’m joined today by Lige Hensley">Lige Hensley, Founder and CEO of Invoke Learning"> Invoke Learning, who helps to peer into the future of 2023 to see how the following will shake out for the industry this year: - Remote and Online’s Evolution Post COVID-19 (5:04) - Using Data in 2023 to see why Every School is...


CAIR Conference 2022: A Rising Tide for Institutional Research

We’re on the road again with the Higher Edge Mobile Podcasting Rig! This week, we’re headed to sunny California and the floor of the California Association of Institutional Research “CAIR” Conference 2022 in La Jolla, California. We caught up with some great folks from across the IR space and got their thoughts on the conference and their collaborations... and gained insight into some of the great sessions and projects in progress at their institutions. A huge thank you to all our guests...


Venture Forward: Driving Technology Transformation

Pete Williams ’s journey as an Information Communication Sciences post-grad took him through multiple tech-heavy industries, but he knew his heart would bring him back to higher education. Now, as the Chief Information Officer for Butler University , Pete is spearheading innovation through servant leadership. He shares what he’s learned managing Butler’s venture fund to gas pedal innovation and how he helps give others the Higher Edge through mentoring. Join us as we discuss: How data...


EDUCAUSE 2022: Taking a Stroll Down Startup Alley

Technology and new platforms are one of the most exciting parts of any convention, and Educause 2022 was no different. In our second episode of coverage, direct from the Educause show floor, we take a stroll down Startup Alley, and meet a fantastic cast of talented characters that each have a platform you should know about for your institution. From engaging students more deeply to eliminating grading biases — these are just some of the glimpses of the Higher Ed future we’ll hear from...


EDUCAUSE 2022: The Higher Education Partnerships Episode

Did you miss out on Educause 2022? Fear not! We saddled up our mobile podcast rig and took it to the floor of the show where we went in search of some of the greatest partnerships in higher education. Join us as we bring you a trio of success stories, direct from the floor of the conference. We’ll hear from: Ken ConnellyZach Meyers(2:12)Troy BurnettDeborah Lee(11:05)Joshua SineJason Hill(22:45) We had a great time interviewing these folks and certainly hope they inspire you to find the...


People, Puppies, and the Pandemic: A Conversation with Phill Miller

Learning management systems (LMS) are important vehicles for data delivery and instruction in higher education. But can also be expensive software platforms that may not give institutions the flexibility and value to highlight their uniqueness. Phill Miller, Managing Director at Open LMS, shares how open-source platforms help cultivate collaboration to empower academic institutions around the world with a powerful, yet cost-effective, LMS solution that's giving them... The Higher...


Inverting the Traditional Fundraising Pyramid

Historically, institutional development in higher education has always revolved primarily around meeting fundraising goals. But modern Development and Advancement Services teams at colleges and universities around the country are inverting the traditional fundraising pyramid. Teresa Goddard , Director of Development Services at Depauw University , shares how focusing on and strengthening the relationships between the institution, prospective donors,and the community in which they serve is...


Chief Data Officers: Giving Context to the Language of Data ft. Olivia Kew-Fickus

With data becoming increasingly important to people in many roles, the Chief Data Officer has become an exciting new position that’s replicating quickly throughout higher education. The CDO is tasked with empowering institutions by providing key insights and critical context that help make sense of this vast array of information. Olivia Kew-Fickus (, Chief Data Officer and Executive Director, Data & Strategic Analytics at Vanderbilt...


National Student Clearinghouse: Inside Higher Education’s Data Collaborative ft. Roberta Hyland

The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) is a mission-driven organization that drives collaboration amongst institutions to support students across the country. As a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization, the NSC plays a key role in supporting these institutions that enroll over 97% of higher education students and more than 70% the nation’s high-school students. Roberta Hyland (, Chief Data Officer at National Student Clearinghouse,...


Empowering Data-Informed Decisions for Students in the U.S. ft. Erin Velez

There are so many organizations that work to support higher education that *aren't* colleges and universities, such as RTI International, and the work they do to help empower data-informed decisions for students. From the Department of Education's College Scorecard ( ) to preparing for the College Transparency Act ( currently going through the U.S. Congress, their work actively supports students...


From Higher Education to Analytics Startup: Solving The Right Problem ft. Eric Spear

The demand for better analytics solutions is peaking at a time when many institutions are struggling to keep up. What role do collaboration and on-the-ground experience play in accelerating higher education analytics? Eric Spear (, President of Precision Campus (, tells us about his journey from working in higher education to founding a growing reporting and analytics company dedicated to advancing institutional...


Through the Transfer Gate: Breaking Down Student Transfer Barriers ft. Darla Cooper

An alarming number of students are not reaching a critical step in their journey toward a bachelor's degree — transferring their community college work to 4-year universities and colleges in order to continue their education. When students can’t reach these goals, it undermines their ability to succeed after investing in themselves and their education. It feels like a fruitless task. Darla Cooper, Executive Director of The RP Group, joins us to share what she and her research team...


Higher Education Research: The Innovation Game ft. Aeron Zentner

With the rise of big data, traditional higher education research has been undergoing an accelerated evolution. Accessibility of information enables everyone to engage and share diverse perspectives freely. Scientific breakthroughs seem to be happening at lightning speed. It begs the question: What qualifies as innovation today? Aeron Zentner (, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness: Research, Analytics, Accessibility, Accreditation, Planning, & Grants...


The New Protectors of Higher Ed Privacy ft. Pegah Parsi

Big data has been a global hot-button issue for several years, which has led to a major focus on higher ed privacy. Lack of transparency and ugly intentions can leave students open to abuse of their autonomy. But a passionate group of professionals are leading the charge in protecting our students from hostile actors. Pegah Parsi, Chief Privacy Officer for the University of California San Diego, joined us to share her thoughts on privacy in the higher ed space and why it matters even more...


The Importance of the Thoughtful Question ft. David Potash

Everyone learns differently, but simply asking the right questions can open doors to innovation and growth. David Potash, President of Wilbur Wright College, City Colleges of Chicago, stresses that real questions are critical to the human educational experience. We can learn from each other by giving people in the higher ed community spaces to collaborate and make better decisions together. After all, the only bad question is the one that goes unasked. Join us as we discuss: - The...


Higher Education as a Cloud-Based Community ft. Rick Smith

Higher education IT does more than just keep the lights on. These men and women are also partners working to empower institutions with technology to realize operational and strategic goals and improve systems necessary for students and faculties to succeed. In this episode, I’m joined by Rick Smith , Chief Information Officer at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine . Rick gave us an insider’s perspective of the critical importance of IT to institutions with ambitious goals and how...


Change-Makers and Rule Breakers in Higher Education

Everyone loves a good story. Brendan Aldrich believes the world of higher education is full of change-makers and rule breakers, and that their stories should be shared. These are the tales of growth and real change that positively impact our lives for the better. As the founder and Head of Business Development at Invoke Learning, Brendan has connected with many people like himself who have helped drive change at colleges and universities across the country. Join us for our inaugural...