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DIT Conference: Higher Education in the 21st Century – Diversity of Missions

Speaker Biographies - Parallel Sessions

Marijk van der Wende

Marijk van der Wende holds professorial chairs at CHEPS and at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

She is currently the President of the Governing Board of the OECD’s Programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE), and a member of various national and international advisory committees and editorial boards.

Her research focuses on the impact of globalisation on higher education and related processes of internationalisation and Europeanisation. She published widely on how these processes affect higher education systems, their structure and governance, institutional strategies, curriculum design, innovation, quality assurance methods, and the use of technology.

She is a senior lecturer on the ERASMUS MUNDUS Master Programme on Higher Education (Universities of Oslo, Tampere, Aveiro, Twente).

Van der Wende holds bachelor degrees in teaching and pedagogy, and a master and doctoral degree in educational sciences (from the University of Amsterdam and the University of Utrecht respectively). After an initial phase in primary and secondary education (1980-1986), she worked and studied in France (1986-1990). Between 1990 – 2002 she held positions at NUFFIC (the Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education), the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) in Brussels, the University of Amsterdam, and was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Studies in Higher Education, at the University of California, Berkeley (USA).

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Frank McMahon

Dr. Frank McMahon took his bachelor and masters degrees in Business Administration at UCD in his native Dublin and he subsequently completed his doctorate in educational management at the University of Sheffield.
Apart from a three-year spell as a Head of School in Bulawayo Polytechnic, he has worked at Dublin Institute of
Technology for 30 years where he is Director of Academic Affairs.

Frank is currently Chair of the International Education Board of Ireland and was recently Chair of the Irish Higher Education Quality Network. He is a member of the Irish National Bologna Committee and a member of the board of the Central Applications Office.

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Andrée Sursock

Andrée Sursock is Deputy Secretary General of the European University Association, where she is responsible for the institutional development areas. These areas include the Institutional Evaluation Programme, activities to promote internal quality processes in universities, management and leadership seminars and a new project on creativity in higher education. She prepares the quality policy positions of the EUA and is involved in the QA policy discussions at the European level.

Prior to this post, she was Director of Development at the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (Open University, UK) and taught at a variety of US institutions, including the University of California (Berkeley) and Stanford University. She holds a first degree in philosophy from the Université Panthéon Sorbonne and a PhD in social/cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Gintaris Aleknonis  

Gintaras Aleknonis is the head of administration at Mykolas Romeris University ( in Vilnius, Lithuania and associate professor in the Department of Management Theory. He also works as a commentator and host of political broadcasts at Lithuanian National Radio (

Gintaras’ education background is in communication and journalism. For two years he worked as a journalist in Munich (Germany), for nine years in Prague (Czech Republic); he was a lecturer at the Vilnius University Institute of Journalism and a senior researcher at the Institute of Culture, Philosophy and Art.

Gintaras has published numerous articles in scientific journals and Lithuanian media and is the author of three books.

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Elizabeth Harman

Elizabeth Harman has been Vice-Chancellor and President of Victoria University since October 2003.

Harman was born and educated in New Zealand. In 1976 she completed a PhD in Canada.

She worked first as a policy analyst on economic development for a Canadian federal department and later worked as a Ministerial Advisor on economic issues for the Western Australian State Government. Over several years she held senior positions at leading Australian Universities. Her experience in these roles includes responsibility for teaching and learning, strategic planning, quality, human resources management, equity and management of faculties.

In higher education, before her appointment as Vice-Chancellor at Victoria University. Professor Harman has held national responsibilities as the Chair of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee (Deputy and Pro-Vice Chancellors (Academic), Board member of AHEIA, the association for university employers, and Auditor for the Australian Universities Quality Agency, participating in audits for two Australian universities.

Currently she is a Board Member of the Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, which provides a national focus for the enhancement of learning and teaching in Australian higher education institutions and is a flagship for acknowledging excellence in learning and teaching. Elizabethe is also a Board member of the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee.

Professor Harman’s experience has provided her with a deep understanding of teaching and learning, industrial relations and issues of governance as they relate to the university sector. She has published on a wide range of policy issues, including industry policy, trade, education, public sector reform, government accountability and the Australian competition policy.

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Josep M Vilalta

Prior to this post, Josep was Deputy General Director for Research and Head of University Evaluation, Studies and Co-operation Area at the Ministry of Universities, Research and the Information Society of the Government of Catalonia (Spain). He has also been Associate Professor of Public Policies and Public Management at the University Pompeu Fabra and Academic Director of the Masters Degree on University Policy and Management at the Technical University of Catalonia.

His specialisation is the area of public policies and public management, specifically those aspects related to higher education policy and management, R+D+I policies, and the knowledge society.

Born and educated in Barcelona, Josep has qualifications in Higher Education Management, Political and Social Science, Public Management, Geography and History. He is also involved in a number of developing world projects, through the NGO sector.

Over the last number of years, Josep has held different posts and responsibilities in the higher education sector. He has been promoter and Director of the UNESCO Chair of Higher Education Management; Head of Strategic Planning Office at the Technical University of Catalonia; Executive Secretary of the International Centre for Coastal Resources Research; Managing Director of the Maritime Engineering Laboratory; and is a member of different editorial boards, and promoter and member of different committees of international congresses. He has been collaborating with some higher education expert groups with international organisations like European Commission and UNESCO. He has published nearly 30 articles, book chapters and books on public management, strategic planning and public management techniques, higher education policy and management and R+D+I policies and management.

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Eva Egron-Polak

Eva Egron-Polak is Secretary-General of the International Association of Universities (IAU), an international Non-Governmental Organisation based at UNESCO in Paris, France. Bringing together Higher Education Institutions and Associations from every region, IAU is committed to strengthening higher education worldwide by providing a global forum for leaders, undertaking research and analysis, disseminating information and taking up advocacy positions in the interest of quality higher education being available to all. Eva has extensive experience in international co-operation in higher education, and now as head of IAU.

Eva Egron-Polak is engaged with many of the most pressing issues in current higher education policy debates globally, such as internationalization, cross border higher education, higher education for sustainable development, and equitable access to higher education, among others. Prior to joining IAU she was Vice President (international) of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. She was educated in the Czech Republic, Canada and France.

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Heather Eggins

Professor Heather Eggins is currently Visiting Professor at Staffordshire University, Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde, UK and was a Fulbright New Century Scholar 2005/2006 working on the topic of ‘Higher Education in the 21st Century: Global Challenge and National Response’.

Heather was Editor of Higher Education Quarterly for the period Jan 2004- Dec 2006. Her last post was Director of the Society for Research into Higher Education.. Her previous career spanned academic administration, working for the UK Council for National Academic Awards, editing – Editor for The University of Colorado at Boulder- and lecturing at various universities (Boulder, Colorado; Warwick; University of Ulster).

Her research interests lie generally in the area of policy and strategy in Higher Education, with particular interest in access issues, governance and the impact of globalisation.

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Sam Shaw

Dr. Shaw assumed his responsibilities as President of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) on October 1, 1997. Today, he leads a team of more than 2,700 staff serving over 65,000 students with an annual budget over $215 million.

Dr. Shaw holds a BA from Chaminade College of Honolulu, a MSc from Dalhousie University and a MEd and PhD from the University of Toronto. He teaches Organizational Behaviour at NAIT and still finds time to support a number of charitable organizations including serving as Chair of the Boards of the United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and Goodwill Industries of Alberta.

Dr. Shaw is committed to lifelong learning and has completed the Professional Development program at the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management. He recently earned the Chartered Director designation and received the 2005 Distinguished Leadership Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District V111. Alberta Venture magazine named Dr. Shaw their 2004 Business Person of the Year and one of their 50 Most Influential People in 2000 and 2005.

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Patrick Clancy

Patrick Clancy is a Professor in the School of Sociology at University College Dublin and former Dean of the Faculty of Human Sciences. His main research interests are in higher education, sociology of education and social change in Ireland. In addition to a large number of articles and book chapters his publications include four national studies of participation in Ireland, including College Entry in Focus (Dublin: Higher Education Authority, 2001) and a number of edited books on Irish society.

Patrick has served on a variety of National Advisory and Policy groups. These include Advisor to the Action Group on Access (2001) and membership of the Advisory Committee on Third Level Student Support (1993). He is a founder member, and current member of the Board of Governors, of the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers. He was selected as a Fulbright New Century Scholar for 2005/06 joining a team of international scholars on the theme of Higher Education in the 21st Century: Global Challenge and National Response.

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Pavel Zgaga

Pavel Zgaga is Professor of the Faculty of Education at the University of Ljubljana, where he began his academic career in 1978. He was Dean of the Faculty of Education (2001-2004), and is currently Director of the Centre for Education Policy Studies (CEPS). CEPS is active in education policy studies at the national and European level; it is also a coordinating institution of the South-East European Educational Cooperation Network.

During the 1990s, Dr. Zgaga was State Secretary for Higher Education (1992-1999), Minister of Education and Sports (1999-2000), and head of a working group on “Education, Training and Youth” during EU accession negotiations (1998-1999). After his return to academe, he has engaged in the Bologna process, serving as general rapporteur (2001-2003), as a member of the Board of the Bologna Follow-up Group (2004-2005) and as the rapporteur of the BFUG Working Group on External Dimension of the Bologna Process (2006-2007). He is involved in several projects in higher education; he is also a member of the advisory boards of Theory and research in education and Journal of education policy.

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John Taylor

Professor John Taylor is an historian by training, with a degree in history and a PhD in early modern social history. Ever since he was an undergraduate student,  he has been enthralled by the world of higher education; amd finds the creation of new knowledge through research and the transmission of knowledge by teaching and learning to be inspiring. He likes to share his enthusiasm with students and colleagues alike.

For over twenty years he has worked in higher education management, first at the University of Leeds (1979-84), then the University of Sheffield (1984-95) and lastly as Director of Planning at the University of Southampton (1995-2001). His management career has provided invaluable experience of all the main policy developments in UK higher education.

In 2001 he moved to the University of Bath becoming Director of the International centre for Higher Education Management before returning to Southampton in 2004 as Professor of Higher Education Management and Policy and Director of the Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy at Southampton (CHEMPaS).

His main research interests build on his previous management experience, especially the analysis of policy developments in higher education; strategic and operational planning in higher education; and resource allocation at system level and within institutions. He has written widely on many of the key policy changes in UK higher education over the last 25 years.

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Gordon Freedman

Gordon Freedman develops education strategy for Blackboard, Inc, providing a voice for education within Blackboard and serving as a bridge between Blackboard and the education, policy and industry communities externally. Freedman has worked extensively within higher education and K12 education corporations, institutions, foundations, and with the textbook industry. His recent survey work of North American higher education leadership can be found at

Freedman joined Blackboard from his consulting firm, Knowledge Base, LLC, a respected provider of expert advice for transforming education through the use of e-Learning, media, and enterprise technology. Knowledge Base’s clients included the University of California, the George Washington University, Michigan State University, California State University Monterey Bay, Rochester Institute of Technology, WebCT, eCollege, O’Reilly Media, Key Curriculum Press, and SRI. Freedman served as acting CEO of TextCentric, Inc, a pioneer in digital textbook technology associated with Carnegie Mellon University, took Prometheus, a course management system, to market for George Washington University prior to its sale to Blackboard, and was an executive with HungryMinds Inc and Knowledge Exchange LLC.

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Christiane Gaehtgens

Dr. Christiane Gaehtgens was born in 1957 in Wilhelmshaven/Germany. She read German and Slavonic studies in Gießen and Bonn and obtained a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Bonn in 1987. From 1989 she spent two years of postdoctoral study at University of Washington, Seattle USA. Upon her return to Germany she was appointed as Head of North America Programmes at DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). In 1994 she took a position as Director of the DAAD office in London/UK. In 1998 she became Secretary General of the newly founded Science Council of Lower Saxony in Hannover/Germany. Since 2003 she is Secretary General of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), based in Bonn and Berlin.

In a personal capacity Dr. Gaehtgens is member of a number of advisory panels and boards, among them the Austrian Science Council, “Elitenetzwerk Bayern”, “Beirat für Systemakkreditierung der Universität Mainz”and a fellow of Institut für Zukunft der Arbeit (IZA). Christiane Gaehtgens is married and has four children.

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Ellen Hazelkorn

Ellen Hazelkorn is a Director of the Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland), Dean of the Faculty of Applied Arts, and Director of the Higher Education Policy Research Unit (HEPRU). She also works as a consultant to the OECD’s Programme on Institutional Management of Higher Education (IMHE), and is associated with the OECD Centre for Co-operation with Non-Members. She has worked with universities and university associations around the world, including New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands and Belguim, and is regularly invited as a keynote speaker on issues of higher education policy and management, institutional diversity, research strategy, and rankings and global competition. She is on the Editorial Board of Higher Education Management and Policy (OECD). In addition, Ellen is an executive of the Dean and European Academic Network (DEAN), and Company Secretary and Board Member of the Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin. She leads a consortium of European academic, research and industrial institutions developing EU research programmes in intelligent digital content.

Ellen has published articles and books on Irish politics and society; digital technologies, gender, work practices and the cultural industries; relations between the media and the state; and higher education policy. Her study, Developing Research in New Institutions, was published by OECD (September, 2005). Ellen is currently leading an international research project on the impact and influence of league tables and ranking systems on higher education decision-making and government policy-making in association with IMHE and IAU.

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