Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - 4:45pm - 5:30pm
Room: Confluence Ballroom
Mike Abbiatti is the Executive Director of WCET and WICHE Vice President for Educational Technologies. Abbiatti assumed the WCET leadership position in January 2015. Previously he was the director of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Educational Technology Cooperative. Abbiatti was formerly associate commissioner for information and learning technology for the Louisiana Board of Regents. He is the founding director of the successful Louisiana Board of Regents Electronic Campus, and former director of Distance Education for Louisiana State University. Abbiatti has been recognized by the Computerworld-Smithsonian Awards Program as a Laureate signifying leadership in the design, deployment, and utilization of Information Technology for the benefit of Louisiana's citizens, and is a past member of the EDNET Education Executive Advisory Board. Other national recognitions include the United States Distance Learning Association's Most Outstanding Achievement by an Individual in K-12 Award, Electronic Learning Magazine's Distinguished Achievement Award through the Educator of the Year Program.
Luke Dowden is the director of the office of distance learning at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. As the founding director, Dowden led the creation and adoption of distance learning policies that support quality course development, program growth, faculty professional development and student success. He is a member of the WCET Steering Committee serving as Chair. Previously, he served as dean of Accelerated Learning at Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana. Dowden earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern State University of Louisiana and earned a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration from Nova Southeastern University. He was the inaugural winner of the Bruce N. Chaloux Award for Early Career Excellence in Online Education presented by the Online Learning Consortium in 2014.
Deb Gearhart is the vice provost for e-learning and strategic Partnerships at Ohio University. Gearhart has worked in the field of distance education for 28 years. Previously she served as director of eTROY at Troy University and served as the founding director of E-Education Services at Dakota State University. Gearhart is a master reviewer and trainer for Quality Matters and has done consulting, training, and program review for distance education programs. She completed her Ph.D. program in education, with a certificate in distance education, from Capella University.
David A. Longanecker has served as the president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education in Boulder, CO, since 1999. WICHE is a regional compact between 15 Western states created to assure access and excellence in higher education through collaboration and resource sharing among the higher education systems of the West. Previously, Longanecker served for six years as the assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to that he was the state higher education executive officer (SHEEO) in Colorado and Minnesota. He was also the principal analyst for higher education for the Congressional Budget Office. Longanecker has served on numerous boards and commissions. He has written extensively on a range of higher education issues. His primary interests in higher education are: expanding access to successful completion for students within all sectors of higher education, promoting student and institutional performance, assuring efficient and effective finance and financial aid strategies, and fostering effective use of educational technologies, all for the purpose of sustaining the nation’s strength in the world and increasing quality of life for all Americans, particularly those who have traditionally been left out in the past. He holds an Ed.D. from Stanford University, an M.A. in student personnel work from George Washington University, and a B.A. in sociology from Washington State University.
Peter Smith is the President and founder at OC@KU at Kaplan Higher Education and is the former assistant director for education of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Smith also served as the founding president of California State University at Monterey Bay and the Community College of Vermont. He served as Vermont's lieutenant governor from 1982–1986 and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed The Quiet Crisis: How Higher Education Is Failing America.