Empowering Chief Academic Officers to lead Innovation 

The Chief Academic Officer is uniquely positioned to offer leadership and innovation. However, most chief academic officers are not formally prepared to launch innovations nor do they have a peer group to explore ideas. The continuing challenges of the pandemic, changing demographics, and decreasing enrollments have only exacerbated the need for Chief Academic Officers to drive innovation.

Chief academic officers need and deserve more peer-support, tools, networking, and professional development to help them rise to this task and to fulfill their potential for leadership. This community is an opportunity to transform how your institution responds to challenges and create better opportunities for your academic leadership teams to drive needed innovation.

Who Should Participate

  • Chief Academic Officers who are leading organizational change

  • Experienced or new Chief Academic Officers who want to focus on their professional development

  • Chief Academic Officers who would like to use improvement science in driving innovation and change at their institution.

How You’ll Benefit

  • Meeting monthly with a cohort of your peers through a virtual year-long engagement

  • Improving your understanding of theories and practices of higher education innovation and change—and resistance to this

  • Developing a plan for significant innovation and implementation

  • Learning from the field-tested and refined content from three previous cohorts.

  •  Gaining a better understanding of what you encounter as you pursue educational innovation. 

Join Us for an Information Meeting

August 1 at 3 pm ET

Short-term investment towards lasting professional growth

Receive guidance, peer collaboration, and access to resources all designed to address the changing needs of institutional leadership. 

Key Features

The Community is designed to with both a virtual and in-person components to help create a community of peers to support each other through this work.


Meet your cohort in the Asheville, NC area spending two days focusing on your personal and professional development. One in the Fall of 2024 and one in Spring 2025.

Learn from facilitators, peers, and past participants as you build your network and deepen your understanding of improvement science and change leadership.

Structured opportunities for participants to turn theory into practice by refining their meaning of innovation and developing ideas for their own institution.

Projects have included such topics as:

  • Strengthening Post-Graduate Opportunities and Economic Mobility
  • Creating more Engaging Learning Environments
  • Creation of an Online Learning College
  • Mapping Systems Affecting Graduation Rates and Designing a Master Plan for Improvement
  • Developing a Career-Focused Advising Program
  • Supporting Inclusive Teaching Practices in Assessment
  • Strengthening Global Engagement
  • Developing an Innovation Process that Supports Faculty and Staff Innovation
  • Developing a plan for integrated Adjunct Engagement
  • Reimagining Academic Scheduling to Support Student Success
  • Creating a Culture of Accountability
  • Empowering faculty and staff through data
  • Reengaging faculty and inspiring passion


$9,250 (excludes costs for travel and lodging for two in-person meetings in the beautiful Asheville, N.C. area).

Fees for The Chief Academic Officers Innovation Community may be paid over two fiscal years. 

The Gardner Institute offers a discount to CAOs from under-resourced and under-represented institutions. To see if your institution qualifies, please email info@gardnerinstitute.org.

Email Info@gardnerinstitute.org for more information.

Apply for 2024-25 Cohort

Applications are due by September 24, 2024


Chief Academic Officers
Students impacted
made by participants in retention revenue for every $1 used to work with us
$ 0


Congratulations to our 2024 Graduates

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