BY Shannon Najmabadi
Texas’ next higher education commissioner will be Harrison Keller, a high-level administrator at the University of Texas at Austin and the founder of recent initiatives designed to improve college readiness and student outcomes. He will assume the post Oct 1.
The appointment was announced Wednesday, following a unanimous vote of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Keller will succeed Raymund Paredes, who announced in January that he would step down after more than a dozen years in the state’s top higher education job.
Keller is currently a clinical professor of public policy practice at UT-Austin and serves as a deputy to the president, responsible for strategy and policy.
His professional biography highlights his policy efforts to boost students’ success — particularly students coming from low-income backgrounds or first-generation college-goers. At UT-Austin, Keller created a program to provide college-level courses to high school students, called OnRamps, and founded an initiative to improve college and career advising. He previously served as the vice provost for higher education policy and research and as executive director of an educational innovation office and of a teaching and learning center. He also worked in the Texas House, as a senior education policy advisor and director of research.
As commissioner, Keller will serve as the chief executive of the Coordinating Board, an agency that administers the state’s financial aid programs and stewards its strategic plan for higher education. It has an operating budget that tops $30 million and a 264-person staff, according to a posting for the commissioner job.
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