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Van L Davis, Ph.D.

Van L. Davis, Ph.D.

Associate Vice President, Higher Education Policy and Research


As Associate Vice President for Higher Education Research and Policy, I’m responsible for setting and advancing Blackboard's research and policy agenda. We believe that it’s crucial for us to be involved in research that can be used to create more and better opportunities for learners and the institutions that serve them as well as become an active participant in national higher education policy conversations. I currently lead research on change management practices for sustaining competency-based education programs as well as research on college access and affordability, higher education trends, the impact of changing student demographics on higher education, and workforce readiness issues. I also manage a number of our strategic partnerships with other higher education organizations such as WCET and ACE and work with those partners to produce webinars, white papers, and other research materials.


Much of my work focuses on:


  • Competency-based education
  • Higher education trends
  • College access and affordability
  • Returning adult learners
  • National distance education policy, including “regular and substantive” regulations
  • Workforce development

My prior work experience includes:


  • Director of Innovations, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
  • Associate Professor of History at both public and private liberal arts institutions
  • Chair, Division of Arts and Humanities, Huston-Tillotson College

Present and past affiliations are:


  • Board Secretary, PeletonU (a 501c3 non-profit that helps adult students enrolled in online CBE programs by providing financial aid and wrap around support services)
  • PhD, United States History with an emphasis in Civil Rights, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Board member, Texas Forums (a 501c3 non-profit that organized and moderated community dialogue)
  • Fellow, Kettering Foundation