Paul LeBlanc

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Leading Authority on Business Model Innovation, the Future of Work and Disruptive Innovation in Higher Education; One of Forbes’ 15 “Classroom Revolutionaries” and “Most Influential People in Higher Education;” President, Southern New Hampshire University

Biography

How do we ensure higher education is the driver of social mobility rather than an obstacle to it? Make it affordable, accessible and relevant for today’s changing workforce, says Dr. Paul J. LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Under his leadership, LeBlanc has transformed the “sleepy” university into a national powerhouse, educating hundreds of thousands who, under traditional higher education models, may not have accessed or succeeded in college. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the #1 most innovative school in 2019, #12 (and the only university) on Fast Company’s “World’s Fifty Most Innovative Companies” list, and recognized by Washington Monthly as a top institution for adult learners, SNHU is a story not only of positive change in higher education but of business model innovation, and its lessons are applicable in any industry. As in all other markets, discovering what “jobs” consumers need done and then fulfilling them is the key to growth and change in education – and Paul LeBlanc is innovation’s leading practitioner in this field.

Dr. LeBlanc, named by Forbes as one of its 15 “Classroom Revolutionaries” and one of the “most influential people in higher education,” is at the vanguard of an education and workforce revolution. An immigrant and first-generation college graduate from a modest family background, he owes his own success in life to his ability to obtain higher education. As a leader who cares deeply about equality of opportunity, LeBlanc recognized early that the post-secondary education market failed to adequately service a large portion of the population. Upon joining SNHU, he set out to use online learning to disrupt the market. Under 15 years of his direction, SNHU has grown from 2,800 to more than 134,000 students and is now the largest non-profit provider of online higher education in the country.

LeBlanc’s dynamic keynotes elaborate on two broad themes: how to ensure higher education promotes social mobility, and how innovative thinking can disrupt existing markets and bring about systemic transformation of industries. He offers tools, perspectives and practical frameworks to show how other organizations can emulate SNHU’s meteoric rise and success.

Widely recognized for his achievements as an educator and innovator, Dr. LeBlanc was named by Washington Monthly one of America’s ten most innovative university presidents. In 2018, he won the prestigious TIAA Institute Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence in Higher Education, joining some of the most respected university and college presidents in American higher education. Prior to SNHU, Dr. LeBlanc served as senior policy advisor to Under Secretary Ted Mitchell at the U.S. Department of Education, working on competency-based education, new accreditation pathways and innovation.

Dr. LeBlanc is a graduate of Framingham State University (bachelor’s), Boston College (master’s), and the University of Massachusetts (doctorate). From 1993 to 1996 he directed a technology start up for Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company and was president of Marlboro College (VT) from 1996 to 2003 until he became president of SNHU.

Dr. Paul LeBlanc is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

Media

Paul LeBlanc’s President’s Blog

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Paul LeBlanc's Evolllution Blog

COVID-19 has Thrust Universities Into Online Learning - How Should They Adapt?

March 30, 2020

For Higher Education, Nothing Matters More Than September

March 29, 2020

Meet the English Professor Creating The Billion-Dollar College Of The Future

March 28, 2019

The Rise of the Mega-University

February 18, 2019

SNHU Reaches Out to Help Workers Affected by Shutdown

January 16, 2019

From New Hampshire to Nairobi: How SNHU is Scaling Breakthrough Learning for All Students

December 20, 2018

Disruptive Innovation in Action: Reinventing Higher Education (Audio)

November 20, 2018

New Merger Wants to Create ‘WeWork for Education’ Via Digital Badges and Mini-Campuses

October 23, 2018

Inside Higher Ed logo

Next for SNHU: Game-Based Learning and Digital Badges for Middle Schoolers

October 19, 2018

For Refugees in Kenya, an Education in Hope

July 07, 2018

Reading Signals from the Future: EDUCAUSE in 2038

July 2, 2018

DACA Students to Receive Full Scholarships to IDEA-U

May 31, 2018

Why Competency-Based Education Stalled (But Isn’t Finished)

May 1, 2018

Inside Higher Ed logo

The 100K Club

April 23, 2018

What Does the College Experience of the Future Look Like? (Audio)

April 28, 2017

evolllution logo

Stop Competing Against Luck: Applying the Jobs to be Done Theory to Higher Education

April 3, 2017

The Customer May Be King, But He’s Also the Boss

October 4, 2016

Southern New Hampshire University’s Paul LeBlanc Wants Higher Ed to Back Up Its Claims

July 1, 2016

Online University Skips Class to be More Accessible

August 22, 2014

The Amazon of Higher Education

January 2, 2014

Intro Video

Video ThumbnailBIF 9: Paul LeBlanc - Building The On Ramp To A Better Life - youtube Video

A-Z Name

LeBlanc, Paul

Biography

How do we ensure higher education is the driver of social mobility rather than an obstacle to it? Make it affordable, accessible and relevant for today’s changing workforce, says Dr. Paul J. LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Under his leadership, LeBlanc has transformed the “sleepy” university into a national powerhouse, educating hundreds of thousands who, under traditional higher education models, may not have accessed or succeeded in college. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the #1 most innovative school in 2019, #12 (and the only university) on Fast Company’s “World’s Fifty Most Innovative Companies” list, and recognized by Washington Monthly as a top institution for adult learners, SNHU is a story not only of positive change in higher education but of business model innovation, and its lessons are applicable in any industry. As in all other markets, discovering what “jobs” consumers need done and then fulfilling them is the key to growth and change in education – and Paul LeBlanc is innovation’s leading practitioner in this field.

Dr. LeBlanc, named by Forbes as one of its 15 “Classroom Revolutionaries” and one of the “most influential people in higher education,” is at the vanguard of an education and workforce revolution. An immigrant and first-generation college graduate from a modest family background, he owes his own success in life to his ability to obtain higher education. As a leader who cares deeply about equality of opportunity, LeBlanc recognized early that the post-secondary education market failed to adequately service a large portion of the population. Upon joining SNHU, he set out to use online learning to disrupt the market. Under 15 years of his direction, SNHU has grown from 2,800 to more than 134,000 students and is now the largest non-profit provider of online higher education in the country.

LeBlanc’s dynamic keynotes elaborate on two broad themes: how to ensure higher education promotes social mobility, and how innovative thinking can disrupt existing markets and bring about systemic transformation of industries. He offers tools, perspectives and practical frameworks to show how other organizations can emulate SNHU’s meteoric rise and success.

Widely recognized for his achievements as an educator and innovator, Dr. LeBlanc was named by Washington Monthly one of America’s ten most innovative university presidents. In 2018, he won the prestigious TIAA Institute Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence in Higher Education, joining some of the most respected university and college presidents in American higher education. Prior to SNHU, Dr. LeBlanc served as senior policy advisor to Under Secretary Ted Mitchell at the U.S. Department of Education, working on competency-based education, new accreditation pathways and innovation.

Dr. LeBlanc is a graduate of Framingham State University (bachelor’s), Boston College (master’s), and the University of Massachusetts (doctorate). From 1993 to 1996 he directed a technology start up for Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company and was president of Marlboro College (VT) from 1996 to 2003 until he became president of SNHU.

Dr. Paul LeBlanc is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

The Future of Higher Education

Though elite universities will continue to prosper in years to come, a major change is sweeping the middle and lower ends of the higher education market. The rise of college tuition over the past few decades has priced many lower- and middle-income people out of this market, but the emergence of online learning is now pricing out the traditional brick-and-mortar universities. Paul LeBlanc argues, based on his personal experience scaling Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) into the largest university in the U.S., that the new mainly online colleges have an advantage due to being unburdened by more traditional hierarchies, overhead and ways of thinking. In this keynote, which can be tailored to both legacy institutions seeking to adapt and survive as well as to fellow disruptors, LeBlanc reveals concrete tools and frameworks for helping to perpetuate the online learning revolution helping hundreds of thousands of people obtain college degrees and certifications, rather than being eroded by it.

How to Disrupt Your Industry: A Proven Business Model

How do you disrupt an industry and transform your organization into a market leader? One of the most successful modern examples involves not a tech startup but a college: Southern New Hampshire University. The methods of SNHU can be emulated and applied across multiple sectors and organizations. In the last few decades, higher education has become a dysfunctional market: Colleges continuously raise tuition, either pricing out consumers or forcing them to take on unsustainable levels of student loan debt. Into this exceptionally tragic instance of market failure have come online learning options, like those offered at SNHU. In just 15 years under Paul LeBlanc’s leadership, SNHU has expanded from having 2,800 to more than 134,000 students nationwide, becoming the largest university network in the United States. Through a wholesale embrace of online learning, LeBlanc’s strategy disrupted a stagnant market by delivering on the job to be done of underserved lower- and middle-income students. In this keynote presentation, LeBlanc provides insights into SNHU as a compelling case study of disruption, one that could work in any industry.

The Future of Work 2.0

Traditionally, people obtained college degrees between the ages of 18 and 24, and then went on to lifelong careers. But today, the constant evolution of technology demands that workers perpetually update their skills. The existing education model is hopelessly outdated as is the way most companies recruit talent: HR managers typically rely on resumes that highlight universities attended and degrees obtained, rather than certifications and practical skills. SNHU president Dr. Paul LeBlanc has helped to spearhead an education revolution through online learning, the core principle of which has been widening access and opportunity to students of all backgrounds. But for this revolution to succeed for everyone, businesses must also understand the new reality of the need to source skilled workers from beyond the most prestigious universities. In this presentation, LeBlanc introduces organizations to the new world (and future) of work and offers insights on how to successfully build bridges to populations and institutions where valuable talent exists but is being overlooked.

Media

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Recommendations

“Paul Leblanc is pioneering the future of higher education and lifelong learning. In an industry desperately in need of disruptive change, his work at SNHU allows every individual to realize his or her unique potential.”

—Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School Professor and Father of the Theory of Disruptive Innovation

“Paul LeBlanc is one of the most committed, creative educators I have ever met. He is driven to bring the life-changing promise of higher education to the many, not the privileged few. He knows the path out of poverty is only possible with educational opportunity. The work he is doing inspires me and gives me hope.”

—Arne Duncan, former US Secretary of Education

“The landscape of higher education is changing dynamically. Paul LeBlanc’s powerful vision for reinventing higher education offers inspiration and hope.”

—John O’Brien, President and CEO of Educause

“Paul LeBlanc is one of America’s most innovative and inspired leaders. He has expanded access to high quality education to hundreds of thousands of traditionally underserved students from New Hampshire to Rwanda. He is a hero.”

—Ted Mitchell, President of the American Council on Education

“In telling his compelling personal story of a life transformed by great teachers and first generation college, Paul LeBlanc leads us to the critical conclusion that ALL people need a “side door” to the American Dream in the form of financially accessible higher education. As one of the world’s true higher education innovators, Paul has delivered the ‘American Dream’ to thousands of individuals all over the world through his presidency at Southern New Hampshire University. His story is an inspiration for all.”

—Deborah Quazzo, Managing Partner of GSV Accelera TE

 

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