Dewayne Matthews, Lumina Foundation

TITLE: Vice President, Strategy Development

FUNDING AREAS: Increasing postsecondary graduation rates in the US

CONTACT: dmatthews@luminafoundation.org, 800-834-5756

IP TAKE: Matthews' professional background in education is mostly administrative, in both the postsecondary and government sectors, although he does have some experience in the trenches as well.

PROFILE: Unlike some of the more investigative-friendly foundation websites, Lumina's does not link specific officers to specific grants. However, was I to guess, I'd say that Dewayne Matthews is behind such projects at Lumina as a $500,000 to the New America Foundation. New America is putting that money toward studying progressive policies that schools such as the University of Arizona have employed to reduce the cost of education. The goal is to promote the "acceptance of new business and academic delivery models within traditional higher education."

Why am I connecting that to Matthews? My evidence comes from Getting to sixty, his (sporadic) blog on Lumina's site. First of all, along with many of his colleagues in postsecondary education philanthropy at other foundations, Matthews supports new innovations in online course ware under development at schools like MIT and Stanford. Matthews is also keen on big changes at our nation's public research universities; he exercises only mild restraint when criticizing them for not keeping hip to the needs of the contemporary workplace.

When Matthews was the keynote speaker at the Tulsa Regional Chamber's 11th annual State of Education Address, he rehashed Lumina's party line: More people need more educational credentials. Even positions in "manufacturing, where workers could formerly be trained on the job now require training and/or certifications prior to beginning work." One remedy, according to Matthews, is a better alignment of "the standards for high school graduation [with]... those for college readiness."

Based on his comments in Tulsa, another safe bet is that Matthews had a hand in Lumina’s $324,000 to the Colorado Community College Foundation. The money supported several hundred older, low-income students enrolled at area community colleges deemed "academically underprepared." Lumina monitored the efficacy of experimental strategies for boosting the demographic's rate of retention.

Preparedness is a key word in education at Lumina these days. Their Goal 2025 strategic plan includes an aim of arming 60 percent of all Americans with college degrees by that year. As Matthews makes clear on his blog (including an audio interview) as well as in this other interview, Lumina's goal focuses on adult learners as much as on students of a "traditional" college age. 

Mathews' own educational story is centered in New Mexico, where he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of New Mexico and earned an master's in bilingual education from New Mexico Highlands University. He then ventured on state over for his doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Arizona State University before returning back to New Mexico to begin his career as a first grade teacher in Taos.

Matthews has served in a variety of higher education leadership roles, including Senior Adviser to the President and Vice President of the Education Commission of the States (ECS), Director of Programs and Services for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), and Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education. He has been a legislative staff member, faculty member and university trustee, and has worked with higher education institutions in Mexico, Canada, and Japan. - See more at: http://www.luminafoundation.org/about_us/leaders/matthews.html#sthash.h6KsUnyc.dpuf

Matthews then segued to the administrative portion of his career, where he's lived ever since. He served as Senior Adviser to the President and Vice President of the Education Commission of the States, Director of Programs and Services for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, and Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education. He has also been a legislative staff member, faculty member and university trustee, and has worked with higher education institutions in Mexico, Canada, and Japan.

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