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National Association of Higher Education Systems Expands Systemness Agenda at Annual Convening

April 4, 2024

Washington, D.C. – Leaders across higher education, philanthropy, business, and government will convene today at the National Association of Higher Education Systems’ (NASH) Superconvening in Washington, D.C. Attendees will participate in a series of sessions with thought leaders around groundbreaking initiatives poised to reshape the landscape of postsecondary education in America. 

Throughout the conference, titled “Systemness at Scale,” NASH will share pivotal programs aimed at advancing prosperity for the nation. By fostering collaboration, innovation, and scalability within and across higher education systems through its Seed, Test, and Scale approach to implementing interventions, NASH’s member systems will make a real difference for students.


Notable speakers at the event include:

  • James Kvaal, U.S. Under Secretary of Education
  • Kate Shaw, Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary and Commissioner of Postsecondary and Higher Education
  • John B. King, Chancellor of The State University of New York and Former U.S. Secretary of Education
  • Kristen Fox, CEO of the Business-Higher Education Forum
  • Michael Collins, Vice President of Jobs for the Future
  • Doug Lederman, Co-Founder of Inside Higher Education

“At NASH, we firmly believe that systemness isn’t just a concept but a paradigm shift that holds the key to unlocking the full potential of higher education,” said Dr. Jason E. Lane, President and Chief Systemness Officer of NASH. “It’s about recognizing that together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. That is why at the heart of this convening – and NASH’s mission – is the commitment to leveraging systemness to seed, test, and scale interventions that address the critical challenges facing colleges and universities today. We’re proud to convene leaders to cultivate collaborations that support students, campuses, and communities alike.”

Conference sessions addressed challenges and opportunities unique to system-level leaders. These included panels focused on:

  • courageous leadership through systemness (featuring leaders from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and The State University of New York);
  • the advantages of utilizing system-level data to improve outcomes (featuring leaders from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the Louisiana Board of Regents);
  • the unique ability of systems to nimbly address emerging issues, including responding to the world’s refugee crisis with education and career training opportunities (featuring leaders from Colorado State University System, Rhode Island Office of Postsecondary Commissioner, and the University System of Maryland); 
  • how system-to-system and cross-sector collaborations can lead to tangible solutions and shift the narrative around postsecondary education (featuring leaders from the University of Illinois System and the University of Tennessee System); and
  • the critical role systems have in shaping the future of states and their economic prosperity (featuring leaders from Texas State University System). 

“Sharing and celebrating the innovative work that can only be done by systems has been truly remarkable, and why my colleagues and I have fully embraced the concept of systemness” said Brian McCall, Chancellor of the Texas State University System and Chair of the NASH Board of Directors. “This convening demonstrates the Power of Systems and what we can achieve when we work together. The initiatives undertaken by NASH are integral to advancing higher education nationwide and demonstrate the true value that systems can provide in the reimagining of American academia.”

In addition to learning and sharing best practices, NASH and its member systems were pleased to announce several new initiatives within its Seed, Test, and Scale program framework.



NASH announced two new Catalyst Fund requests for proposals launching this spring. The first Catalyst Fund targets P-20 partnerships and aims to lift up examples of systemness that advance educational opportunity and excellence through collaborations that span the educational continuum. NASH has $200,000 in available funding to support P-20 partnerships and anticipates making most awards at the $10,000 level. The second Catalyst Fund will focus on course sharing within systems, with funding to be awarded to systems at various levels ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. 

The NASH Catalyst Fund promotes widespread engagement among system members, encouraging the sharing of promising practices that drive equitable student success outcomes scalable to other systems. By pooling philanthropic support, NASH can recognize and incentivize the development of innovative ideas from its members. These ideas, once proven effective, have the potential to be scaled not only within a single system but also across systems nationwide. Previous Catalyst Fund recipient systems include Southern Illinois University, University of Louisiana, Texas State University, California State University, Washington State University, New Mexico State, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Rhode Island Office of Postsecondary Commissioner, and Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.



NASH today announced a new NASH Improvement Community (NIC) that will launch in May. This latest NIC is the third focusing on transfer student success, consisting of 12 campus teams across four systems. The aim of this work is to ensure processes and policies support student mobility and reflect the way students today actually experience higher education, rather than how administrators think they ought to. With this third NIC on transfer, a total of 36 campus teams across 15 systems comprising 350 participants will have applied NASH’s improvement science methodology to address challenges in transfer. Collectively, these three cohorts represent 194 campuses with the potential to positively impact more than two million students. Transfer Cohort III will extend through July 2025, and results will be disseminated across all 54 NASH member systems. 

NICs serve as an avenue for testing interventions that tackle pressing challenges in higher education. At the core of the NIC model is NASH’s facilitation of improvement science among member systems and their campuses, ensuring that those directly involved in the work are actively engaged in the creation, testing, and implementation of innovative solutions.



Finally, NASH is proud to unveil its new Leadership Academy, the nation’s only professional development program solely focused on higher education leaders at the system level. The program is designed to cultivate visionary leaders and equip them to navigate the complex terrain of higher education systems. Transcending traditional leadership training, the NASH Leadership Academy will immerse participants in the intricacies of system-level leadership and the art of leveraging systemness. Through a blend of experiential learning, strategic insights, and mentorship, participants will acquire the skills, mindset, and network needed to drive transformative change within their systems and constituent campuses.

As a part of the Leadership Academy, NASH teased its Systemness Bootcamp, set to launch this fall. The NASH Systemness Bootcamp is tailored to empower systems in cultivating high-performing teams capable of driving large-scale change, enhancing campus and system performance, and scaling best practices across multiple campuses. This hands-on experience offers participants the opportunity to deepen their understanding of systemness and actively implement transformational efforts at the system level.


Media interested in interviewing leadership from NASH and its member systems, or acquiring event photos for publication, should reach out for more information.


About the National Association of Higher Education Systems

Founded in 1979, the National Association of Higher Education Systems (NASH) works to advance the role of multi-campus systems and the concept of systemness to create a more vibrant and sustainable higher education sector. NASH systems are comprised of more than 700 campuses and serve more than 7.5 million students in nearly every state in the United States. To learn more about NASH and its national transformation agenda, the Power of Systems, visit



Media Contact

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