The AGB Institute for Leadership & Governance Welcomes Outstanding Leaders to the Class of 2024-2025

Contact: Andrea Hansen, 509-306-1867, 

Washington, D.C., April 19, 2024 – The AGB Institute for Leadership & Governance in Higher Education has announced the selected participants for the class of 2024-2025. Now entering its sixth year, twenty-one participants from institutions around the country will gather for an in-person symposium in Washington, D.C. in September to kick off the program.

The institute has proudly supported higher education leaders on their professional journeys. To date, more than twenty of the past participants have become presidents or chancellors of higher education institutions, and many other participants have successfully progressed on the pathway to the presidency with commendations and new positions.

“The office of the president is very different than it was a decade ago, and a fundamental recognition is that the leadership tools of the past are not the same that will work in the future” said Jason Lane, co-director of the institute, referencing the considerable challenges – from enrollment retention to increasing political attacks – that currently face presidents and chancellors. “Now more than ever, our higher education leaders need support and training to be able to make difficult decisions and strategically guide their institutions through times of transformation.”

The participants of the Class of 2024-2025 (Cohort 6) are:

Dr. Stephanie G. Adams
Dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering & Computer Science and Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering
University of Texas at Dallas

Dr. Brian Bridges
Secretary of Higher Education
New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education

Dr. Ivey L. Brown
Chief Legal Counsel
Winston-Salem State University

Dr. Andrew J. Butler
Dean of the School of Health Professions
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Taffye Benson Clayton
Associate Provost and Vice President for Inclusion & Diversity
Auburn University

Dr. Jack DeRochi
Dean of Graduate, Continuing, & Online Education
Winthrop University

Dr. Savitri Dixson-Saxon
Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, Engagement, and Academic Performance
Walden University

Dr. Stacy L. Downing
Chief Administrator of DSU Downtown, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives
Delaware State University

Dr. Jody M. Goins
Executive Vice President for Administration
Lincoln Memorial University

Dr. Vernon J. Hurte
Senior Vice President for Student Affairs & University Life
Towson University

Dr. Brian T. Kench
Dean of the Pompea College of Business
University of New Haven

Dr. James R. Martin, II
Vice Chancellor for STEM Research & Innovation
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Jeffrey W. McClurken
Vice President of Strategy, Chief of Staff to the President
University of Mary Washington

Dr. Altaf Merchant
Endowed Dean of the Milgard School of Business
University of Washington, Tacoma

Dr. Corey Phelps
Dean of the Fred E. Brown Chair of Business, Price College of Business
University of Oklahoma-Norman

Dr. Jason Rivera
Vice Provost for Student Success, Dean of University College
Ball State University

Dr. Shadow J.Q. Robinson
Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
University of Arkansas Fort Smith

Dr. Monica M. Smith
Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging
University of Wisconsin System

Dr. Marcus D. Ward
Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Alcorn State University

Dr. Melissa Canady Wargo
Chief of Staff
Western Carolina University

Dr. Amber S. Williams
Vice Provost for Student Success
University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Dr. Timothy Winders
Assistant Vice President, Deputy Chief Information Officer, Vice Chancellor of Information Services
Purdue University Northwest

Download institute
cohort members’ bios and photos.

The AGB Institute for Leadership & Governance is composed of two symposia, four online workshops, attendance at the AGB National Conference on Trusteeship and a shadowing experience with a sitting president. The institute features more than 30 higher education expert presenters including current and former presidents, trustees, search consultants and other sector professionals.

Recently released data from the American Council on Education’s 2023 American College President Study shows that the average tenure of college presidents continues to shorten. Colleges and universities are faced with a dearth of qualified leaders to meet the demands of the higher education sector due to several factors including burnout and desire to be more closely aligned with internal principles.

The institute aims to provide support to higher education leaders by fortifying participants with mentorship and peer networks as participants undergo their leadership journey together. “We recognize that choosing to pursue the office of a president is a calling,” said AGB Search Managing Principal and institute co-founder Rod McDavis. “Our institute offers the opportunity to create a different style of presidential leadership to pursue that calling.”

To learn more about the institute, visit


The AGB Institute for Leadership & Governance in Higher Education is designed for small groups of participants who aspire to presidencies at four-year public research universities and regional comprehensive institutions. Presented by AGB Search, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) and the National Association of Higher Education Systems, the Institute is designed to bolster the pipeline of qualified and diverse presidential candidates in preparation for higher education leadership.

Posted on 04.19.2024