Keller appointed to lead national Commission on Opportunities After High School

AUSTIN Texas Higher Education Coordinator Board Commissioner Harrison Keller was named co-chair of the Commission on Opportunities After High School, an initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The commission will help students across the country access clear and cogent information about opportunities after high school.

The Commission is co-chaired by Keller, Nancy E. Cantor of Rutgers University, and Bridget Terry Long of Harvard, and includes 23 additional members from across the country.

“I’m honored to have been selected to co-chair this new Commission for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” Keller said. “This is an area of policy I’ve always been passionate about, from my work at the Texas Capitol, at the University of Texas at Austin, and now at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. I’m grateful to President David Oxtoby and his team at the Academy for establishing this project and look forward to working with my co-chairs and members of the Commission.”

Tasked with developing systemic methods to bring high school graduates clear, detailed information to help them make the best higher education decisions for their future, the Commission will also develop recommendations to support more effective planning by higher education institutions and promote economic growth, a news release said.

Commission goals include:

  • Uniting K-12, higher education, and the workforce – sectors that historically have been siloed;
  • Learning from multi-faceted perspectives through listening sessions and by building on the expertise of the Commission members;
  • Highlighting solutions that have increased economic and social opportunities for students who have historically been underserved;
  • Identifying successful policies and practices in states and localities across the country that could be scaled; and
  • Providing regional/geographic-specific recommendations that can be implemented in ways that respond to local priorities.

Under Keller’s leadership, Texas has developed multiple initiatives addressing these challenges, including Texas OnCourse to support counselors and college and career advisers, the Texas First Early High School Graduation Program, Texas Leadership Scholars, the FAST financial aid program for high school students enrolled in dual credit college courses, and the state’s one-stop college advising resource My Texas Future. The recent launch of DataBridge, the state’s interactive source for higher education data, also provides leaders and policymakers actionable information to help improve educational programs. At UT Austin, Keller founded the OnRamps initiative that serves tens of thousands of high school students across the state through high-quality dual enrollment college courses and teacher training.

Keller has more than 25 years of experience in Texas state budget and policy, university administration, fundraising, and building coalitions among higher education institutions, school districts, and policymakers. He is a recognized innovator in programs that improve college readiness and student success, especially for low-income and first-generation students. Keller has taught at Georgetown University, St. Edward’s University, and the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s and Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University. From 2005 to 2015, he served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded in 1780, is an honorary society that recognizes excellence across disciplines and professions and convenes members and other experts to address issues of importance to the nation.