HIGHER is a series of free professional development summits designed to equip women in higher education administration with the tools, relationships, and confidence to thrive personally and professionally. These one-day experiences take a step towards diversifying leadership in higher education.
While women tend to find equal representation in lower-level managerial roles, top positions in higher education leadership fail to represent the movement toward a more diverse and inclusive future. It’s time for that to change.
Presidents at US colleges and universities
The opening workshop will have you reflecting on key themes, turning points, and people in your career. After discovering what those experiences reveal about your values, a partner exercise will help you reimagine how you can be your best self at work, at home, and everywhere in between.
Hear from women who hold senior leadership positions about their personal journeys. What did they wish they’d known at key milestones in their careers? What advice would they give to their younger selves? Learn how these outstanding women overcame barriers to reach where they are today.
After uncovering the biggest barriers women face, this interactive session will empower each attendee to design a plan for reaching their next major goal, whether it's an individual career ambition or a program for creating change on campus.
Vice President for College Advancement at Wheaton College
Merritt Crowley has been involved in the non-profit fund-raising world for more than 23 years. Merritt has a comprehensive understanding of campaign fundraising, philanthropy, board development, prospect management, and volunteer management as well as over fifteen years of staff management experience in comprehensive campaigns ranging from $35 million - $1 billon+.
Merritt has worked for private and public colleges and universities as well as some non-profit agencies. She held several positions with Brown over her 17 years there including: Executive Director of Development – Metro NY, Director of Campaign Volunteer Management, Director of Parents Leadership Programs, Major Gift Officer, and Sr. Associate Director Annual Giving. Merritt has also worked at Bryant University – overseeing all aspects of the institutions first-ever comprehensive campaign; Connecticut College's office of Advancement; and most recently, as head of the Rhode Island College Foundation.
Merritt is a frequent speaker at national conferences for CASE and Academic Impressions and has served on several boards including Tockwotton Home and the EPIIC Alumni Board at Tufts University. She is currently a member of PPP-RI. She is a graduate of Tufts University having received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Russian Studies.
Vice President for Equity & Social Justice at Emerson College
The Vice President for Equity & Social Justice provides strategic leadership and guidance for all matters related to diversity and inclusion. The VPDI is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic plans, policies, programs and operating structures that advance the College’s diversity and inclusion goals. Critical areas of engagement for the VPDI include academic affairs, student affairs, international affairs, and civic engagement. The VPDI also develops trainings and programs that build institutional awareness and accountability; supports programs to enhance the recruitment, retention and success of faculty, staff and students from underrepresented groups; and engages with faculty to develop curricula, scholarship, and pedagogy that promotes an academic atmosphere reflecting Emerson’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The VPDI serves as a member of the President’s Council, chairs the Council for Inclusive Excellence, and consults with senior leadership on major institutional issues regarding diversity and inclusion.
Sylvia joined the Emerson community as Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion in August of 2012. Her background includes more than twenty of experience in higher education in student and academic affairs, with leadership positions at Dartmouth College, the University of Rhode Island, Bryant College, and most recently, New England College, where she was the Assistant Vice President for Academic Initiatives. At Dartmouth College, she oversaw diversity and academic support programs, first as Associate Dean of Student Life and Director of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership and later as Associate Dean of the College. Sylvia went onto become Acting Dean of Dartmouth College overseeing a 32 million dollar budget and a staff of 500 employees. In addition to her administrative experience, Sylvia has served in faculty roles in departments of education and human development. She earned a BA in Speech Communications and MS in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Rhode Island. She received her PhD in Education from the Rhode Island College/University of Rhode Island Joint Doctoral Program in Education.
Co-Founder & CEO at Wisr
As a former first-generation college student, Kate is extremely passionate about improving educational outcomes for college students across the country. After working in Admissions and Career Services for the University of Chicago, Kate became interested in how technology can be used to support student outcomes. She returned to Northeast Ohio as VP of Business Development at DecisionDesk before founding Wisr in 2016.
Kate is heavily involved in Cleveland’s entrepreneurial community as the Chair of the JumpStart Leader’s Council and serving on the DigitalC Fund Advisory Board. Kate was a member of the varsity volleyball team at the University of Chicago, where she received her BA and MBA. She was born and raised in Hartville, OH, but now resides in Rocky River. When she’s not working on building Wisr, Kate is probably practicing yoga, spending time on Lake Erie, playing with her dog, or enjoying good conversation over a glass of wine.
Director of Marketing at Wisr
As Wisr’s Director of Marketing, Anna oversees the company’s digital and in-person marketing strategy. This includes programming design and coordination of the HIGHER summit series and Wisr Academy learning hub.
Prior to joining Wisr, Anna worked in Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice. In her work as a human capital consultant, Anna focused on guiding her Fortune 500 clients - and their people - through transformational change. Whether managing enterprise communications, redesigning organizational structures, or developing culture and engagement workshops, her priority has always been to create space for people to be their best at work.
The summit will take place on July 16, 2019 from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM in Boston, MA. We'll gather at the Photonics Center on Boston University's campus.
We provide all the materials you'll need in addition to a light breakfast, a catered luncheon, and an afternoon snack. Gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options will be available.
The agendas for HIGHER summits vary to accommodate the special programming unique to each, but most follow the same general format:
8:30 AM — Check in
9:00 AM — Welcome and kickoff
9:30 AM— REFLECT Workshop: gain insights and map your future development through a personal inventory of your defining experiences
11:00 AM — Break
11:15 AM — INSPIRE Speaker Session: learn what senior leaders wish they'd known at key milestones in their careers
12:00 PM — Lunch and networking
12:45 PM — Introduction to resources
1:00 PM — INSPIRE Speaker Session: learn what senior leaders wish they'd known at key milestones in their careers
1:45 PM — Break
2:00 PM — ACT Workshop: identify solutions for the top challenges facing women in higher ed through an interactive workshop
3:20 PM — ACT Workshop: design an action plan for reaching your next big career goal
3:50 PM — Resources and feedback
4:00 PM — Closing remarks
This is an event for ambitious leaders, aspiring bosses, tribe-seekers, and community-builders. We welcome women in faculty and staff positions across all departments to join us. Due to high demand, we can only offer seats to women who are currently employed at an institution of higher learning. HIGHER attendees represent a variety of higher education institutions, including liberal arts colleges, research institutions, community colleges, and everything in between.
Yes! In fact, several leaders at a past summit used the event as an opportunity to reconnect with and invite peers they’d met at previous conferences, bond with new team members, and strengthen relationships with leaders across their campuses. To ensure you get the most out of the day, we recommend that your team's VP or Director joins for the day. Anyone who wishes to attend is required to register.
Our goal is to reach as many women in higher education as possible to support them in reaching their professional goals. To help us do that, we ask that if you'd like to attend again, you bring a colleague or peer at another institution who has not attended before.
Absolutely not. We believe that the most impactful development experiences come when you have the chance to build relationships with everyone in the room, talk candidly about the challenges that are keeping you up at night, and brainstorm solutions together. You can’t do that if there are 500 people in the room. Each HIGHER summit is intentionally capped at 50 attendees to allow for that close-knit, collaborative environment.
We believe that women benefit greatly from coming together to share their experiences and lessons. To make HIGHER as accessible as possible, attendance is free for all registrants. Your registration includes programming, resources, and meals for the day.
As a (female-led) company, Wisr spent a lot of time reflecting on the state of higher education leadership. Based on our interactions while bringing Wisr to market, higher ed isn’t reflecting the kind of diverse and inclusive future the world aspires to have. In our work, we consistently see equal representation of women in individual contributor or lower-level managerial roles, but more senior leadership positions often don't reflect that diversity. Women in higher ed administration are facing barriers to rising the ranks in their institutions, and we wanted to do something about it.
Yes! We offer HIGHER to institutions interested in a private professional development for their female faculty and staff. If you're interested in learning more about this offering, email Kate Volzer.