The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE or Board) seeks nominations, expressions of interest, and applications for a collaborative, creative, and accomplished leader to serve as the next Commissioner of Higher Education. The Commissioner is an equity-minded, student-centered leader who promotes, fosters, and coordinates the Commonwealth’s public colleges and universities; authorizes and regulates the Commonwealth’s private (independent) colleges and universities; and works energetically and passionately to strengthen the impact, accessibility, accountability, and quality of all public and private institutions of higher education in Massachusetts.
The Commissioner is appointed by the Board with the approval of the Massachusetts Secretary of Education. The Commissioner reports to the Board and works collaboratively with the Governor and Secretary of Education. The Commissioner is the executive and administrative head of the Department of Higher Education (DHE), which works to carry out the statutory authority of the 13-member Board and identify strategies and policies that serve public and private higher education institutions in the Commonwealth and their students. They also partner with the students, staff, faculty, trustees, and presidential leaders of the Commonwealth’s 24 public colleges and universities, the five campuses and President of the University of Massachusetts (UMass) system, and the independent institutions. In addition, critical relationships are built with B-12 advocates and leaders, state legislators, and leaders in the local, regional, and business communities. These partnerships and relationships all advance the mission, policies, and initiatives of the Board and the Department.
Massachusetts has long been known for its strong education culture and boasts the highest level of educational attainment in the United States. The Commonwealth also has the highest percentage of bachelor’s, graduate, and professional degree holders. Massachusetts is noted for the high quality of its K-12 public-school options and strong standardized test scores. The Commonwealth continues to work to address chronic gaps in opportunity and outcomes across lines of socioeconomic and racial differences which manifest clearly at both the K-12 and college levels. To address these issues of racial and socioeconomic equity, the BHE adopted an equity vision statement in 2018, making the Massachusetts Board the first state higher education authority in the U.S. to make equity the top statewide policy and performance objective.
The next Commissioner will be responsible for building on the exceptional foundation in place and continue to foster a culture of innovation that moves programs, partnerships, and people to achieve the next level of excellence in Massachusetts public higher education, with particular emphasis on: advancing the Equity Agenda and other strategic initiatives of the BHE; serving as a visible and proud advocate for higher education; focusing on demonstrable student success results; and protecting student consumers.
The successful candidate will bring executive-level experience and knowledge with a record of success, preferably in higher education or in a field relevant to the civic and public domain. They will have significant experience/exposure to higher education, a clear commitment to its success and values, and experience and credentials that inspire confidence and trust from a wide range of stakeholders, including the higher education community. Detailed information about the position and qualifications is provided in the Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Search Prospectus.
The Board of Higher Education is being assisted by Academic Search. Prospective candidates may arrange a confidential conversation by emailing MACommissioner@academicsearch.org. One of the search team members – Dr. Jay Lemons, Dr. Carlos Medina, Dr. Shawn Hartman, or Ms. Jennifer Kooken – will respond.
The position is open until filled, but only applications received by Thursday, July 28, 2022, can be assured full consideration. Applications and nominations may be submitted in confidence to MACommissioner@academicsearch.org. Applications must include a curriculum vitae; a substantive cover letter that addresses the expectations discussed in the leadership agenda; and contact information for five professional references who will not be contacted without the candidate’s permission.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. The Commonwealth provides equal opportunity in state employment to all persons. No person shall be denied equal access because of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or physical/mental disability. An Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer. Women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.
Executive Order #595: As a condition of employment, successful applicants will be required to have received COVID-19 vaccination or an approved exemption as of their start date. Details relating to demonstrating compliance with this requirement will be provided to applicants selected for employment. Applicants who receive an offer of employment who can provide documentation that the vaccine is medically contraindicated or who object to vaccination due to a sincerely held religious belief may make a request for exemption.