ACE’s Agile Administrators Program


​​​Increasing agility to respond to the rapidly changing higher education landscape

What Is an Agile Administrator?

Agile administrators lead innovation across their campus and rise to the challenge of their rapidly changing environment to meet the needs of students and the community. They are doers who put institutional strategy and values into action every day through rapid, iterative improvement.

Why Become an Agile Administrator?

Innovation Leadership Skill Development

Strengthen your ability to rapidly innovate through professional learning that fits into the flow of your work, yielding insights that you can apply immediately. Develop the skills to be more agile in your leadership practice and accelerate the transformation of your institution in the service of student success and equity using agile and lean mindsets, tools, and techniques. Learn to confidently lead teams and build coalitions that tap creativity and empathy through design thinking, shifting into lean startup mode to learn more, earlier in the process of implementing new initiatives while staying aligned with the governance structures and core values of your institution.

Build a Network of Peers

Build deep and sustained connections among the new generation of leaders poised to transform higher education—peers who understand the day-to-day challenges that you face. Connect with a trusted cohort of fellow innovators who seek to more powerfully lead agile innovation on their campuses and who can understand you, emotionally support you, and help work through challenges with you. Hear their stories, get recommendations, and share ideas.

Demonstrate the Expertise Colleges and Universities Need

Make a powerful statement about your capability to lead creative change by becoming an ACE Certified Agile Administrator and proudly display your digital badge. Compose and defend a digital portfolio that represents your philosophy and accomplishments as a leader of agile innovation in higher education.

​What Participants Are Saying

Who Can Become an Agile Administrator?

Senior leaders serving in a variety of roles, from any type of higher education institution, can benefit from professional learning through the Agile Administrators program. Learn at your own self-guided pace in the flow of your daily work, whether in five-minute modules or for an hour at a time. Join peers in Learning Circles and build a network of fellow leaders committed to advancing knowledge around agile innovation.

Agile Administrator Competencies

Effective agile administrators share six competencies. Every component of the Agile Administrators program is focused on helping you develop, grow, and document these capabilities. Competencies can be mastered in any order, as your work dictates or as your schedule allows.

Ways to Become an Agile Administrator

ACE’s Agile Administrators program supports your professional growth in three ways.

Learning Pathways

Screenshot of an Agile Administrators learning module.

An example of a learning module video. Click here to see the full resolution image.

  • Learn from 61 self-paced, eight-minute modules of multimedia content and activities that explore key mindsets, strategies, and techniques for leading agile innovation.
  • Learn in the flow of your work, when you have time. Learn in any order—pathways are not sequential.
  • Integrated activities give you an opportunity to deepen your learning through extended attention.

Learning Circles

  • Join a facilitated group of six to 10 peers to learn from and with each other as you implement agile innovation on your campus. Learning Circles meet weekly for an hour to focus on reflection and learning in conversation.
  • Connect with a trusted cohort of fellow innovators who seek to more powerfully lead agile innovation on their campuses and who can understand you, emotionally support you, and help work through challenges with you. Hear their stories, get recommendations, and share ideas.
  • An example of an activity using Mural. Click here to see the full resolution image.

  • New Learning Circles form monthly. After you subscribe, you will be placed in a Learning Circle, which meets for at least six weeks, with eligibility to join another Learning Circle when new circles form once your prior circle ends.


  • Earn the ACE Certified Agile Administrator Microcredential, developed in partnership with a coalition of experts and organizations dedicated to your success, to display on your CV, resume, LinkedIn profile, and elsewhere through submitting a Microcredential Portfolio.
  • The microcredential shows others your agile expertise through documenting your thinking and work in relationship to each of the six competencies.
  • Demonstrate the six competencies of agile administrators through a rigorous process.
  • Portfolios will be assessed by a panel of experienced agile administrators. To ensure its rigor, the microcredential assessment is independently evaluated using the same standards ACE Learning Evaluations for college credit recommendations.
  • The microcredential is valid for five years and may be renewed by revising and defending your digital portfolio.

Learning Pathways

Components of a Learning Pathway

Each of the six competencies has a learning pathway. Each pathway includes:

  • Nine five-minute, self-paced online modules that combine:
    • Animated explainer videos
    • Interactive graphics
    • Interviews with campus leaders and top experts
  • Two optional activities that take about 45 minutes to complete
  • An annotated list of curated resources and learning experiences, continuously updated to reflect what has been most valuable to participants
  • Fifty-five modules and 12 activities that will take approximately 15 hours to complete

The Mindset, Movement and Momentum, and ​Managing​ pathways are currently available, and Learning Circles are forming monthly. Additional pathways will be released over the course of the fall of 2021.

Learning Circles

Learning Circles meet weekly over six weeks to discuss the challenges that members face in leading agile innovation through the lens of each of the six competencies. During activities and discussion in the first five meetings, members will use concepts and examples from the associated learning pathway to unpack these challenges and seek solutions. In the sixth meeting, members will discuss the value their work together is creating, their aspirations for the future, and if and how they would like to continue to collaborate and learn together. 

Learning Circles members can share resources and continue discussions between meetings and with members of other Learning Circles through private discussion groups.

Sample Questions and Activities for the First Six Sessions of a Learning Circle Mindset

  • Week 1: Who are we as agile administrators? What does innovation look like at our institutions now, and what do we hope for it to achieve in the future?
  • Week 2: What keeps us up at night, and what role do mindsets play? How can we begin to shift mindsets within agile innovation projects by framing them as habits?
  • Week 3: Case clinics focused on opportunity and distributed mindsets
  • Week 4: Case clinics focused on adaptive and iterative mindsets
  • Week 5: Case clinics focused on opposing mindsets at the same time
  • Week 6: What values are we generating together and where do we go from here?


ACE Certified Agile Administrator Microcredential: Portfolio Review

To earn the ACE Certified Agile Administrators Microcredential, you must compose and defend a digital portfolio that represents your philosophy and accomplishments as a leader of agile innovation in higher education. Completing Learning Pathways activities and Learning Circle meetings generates material that may be incorporated into your digital portfolio alongside artifacts from work you've done in your field and on your campus.

How to earn the ACE Certified Agile Administrators Microcredential:

  1. Compose a digital portfolio by reflecting on artifacts that document your thinking and work in relationship to each of the six competencies
  2. Present and defend the portfolio to a panel of experienced agile administrators

What you will receive upon completion:

  1. An open digital badge signaling your achievement issued through Credly [], optionally linking back to the evidence supporting it, which you may add to your LinkedIn profile or a website, share via it social media or email, and import into any Open Badges infrastructure-compliant system
  2. A letter from ACE sent to your president or another institutional leader of your choice, which you may include in applications and personal files that do not yet support digital badges
  3. A special lapel pin you may wear to Agile Administrators Summits, the ACE Annual Meeting, and other professional events
  4. Eligibility to serve on panels where agile administrators present and defend their digital portfolios

Contributing Experts

Darren Cambridge
Director of Content Strategy, American Council on Education

Jeff Cornwall
Professor of Entrepreneurship, Belmont University, and CEO, Entrepreneurial Mind LLC

James DeVaney
Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Founding Executive Director for the Center for Academic Innovation, University of Michigan

Kristen Eshleman
Vice President for Library and Information Technology Services, Trinity College

Lisa Ferris-McCann
Director, Academic Integrity and Quality, Learning Evaluations, American Council on Education

Susan Grajek
Vice President for Partnerships, Communities, and Research, EDUCAUSE

Jean Hammond
General Partner, LearnLaunch Accelerator

Robin Matross Helms
Assistant Vice President, Programs and Global Initiatives, Learning and Engagement, American Council on Education

Sherri Hughes
Assistant Vice President, Community Strategy and Engagement, Professional Learning, American Council on Education

Jo-Ann Rolle
Dean, School of Business,
Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York

Louis Soares
Chief Learning and Innovation Officer, American Council on Education

Richard Staisloff
Founder and Senior Partner, rpk GROUP

Beverly Wenger-Trayner
Social Learning Researcher and Consultant, Wenger-Trayner, LCC

Etienne Wenger-Trayner
Social Learning Researcher and Consultant, Wenger-Trayner, LCC

Linda Baer
Senior Consultant, Linda L. Baer Consultant

Scott Barker
Vice President, Student Advisement, Southern New Hampshire University

MJ Bishop
Associate Vice Chancellor & Director, Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, University System of Maryland

Marie Cini
Acting CEO, ED2Work

Lauren Collier
Consultant, Higher Education Strategy, Vantage Point

Terah Crews
CEO, ReUp Education

Anne Dahlman
Interim Associate Provost and Dean of Global Education, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Sarah DeMark
Vice President, Program Development, Western Governors University

Tristan Denley
Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer University, System of Georgia

David Donnelly
Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Muhlenberg College

Janyce Fadden
Director of Strategic Engagement, University of North Alabama

Brian Fleming
Associate Vice Chancellor, Learning Ecosystem Development, Northeastern University

Tim Gilmour
President Emeritus, Wilkes University

Seth Green
Dean, Graham School of Continuing and Library Studies, University of Chicago

Lisa Guion Jones
Professor of Higher Education, University of Central Florida
ACE Women’s Network of Florida State Chair

Katie Herschede
Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Chief of Staff, Widener University

Sean Hobson
Assistant Vice President and Chief Design Officer for EdPlus, Arizona State University

Elizabeth Holcombe
Postdoctoral Research Associate,​​ University of Southern California

Adrianna Kezar
Dean's Professor of Leadership, Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education at the University of Southern California, and Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education​

Aisha Lowe
Vice Chancellor, Educational Services and Support, California Community Colleges ​

Alexander Osterwalder
Co-founder, Strategizer

Guillermo Martinez
Interim Vice President of Student Affairs, Austin Community College District

Liz Nilsen
Associate Director, Agile Strategy Lab, University of North Alabama

Donald Norris
President and Founder, Strategic Initiatives

Matthew Rascoff
Special Advisor to the Provost for Education Outreach & Digital Innovation, Stanford University

Timothy Renick
Senior Vice President for Student Success and Professor of Religious Studies, Georgia State University

Jo-Ann Rolle
Dean, School of Business, Medgar Evers College of The City University of New York

Samantha Sengel
Vice President, Advancement and Enrollment Strategy, Central New Mexico Community College

Nancy Sharpiro
Associate Vice Chancellor & Special Assistant to the Chancellor for P-20 Education,​ University System of Maryland

Christopher Washington
Provost and Executive Vice President, Academic Affairs, Franklin University

Marie Y. Williams
Vice President for Human Resources, Brown University​​

Pricing and Scholarships

Subscribers will receive immediate access to all the learning pathways and modules​. Learning Circles begin monthly, and subscribers can choose the start month that best fits their schedules.

To join one of the Learning Circles that begin in July, please register by July 10, 2022. The first cohort of microcredential candidates will complete their portfolio reviews during the summer and fall of 2022. 


Join the Agile Administrators program and start learning today.

Summer learning circles begin soon. To join a circle beginning in July, subscribe to Agile Administrators by July 10.  

Questions? Contact Us

For more information, contact us at or 202-939-9731.


Generous support provided by 

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation  Charles Koch Foundation