Named one of the “Most Innovative People in Higher Education” by Washington Monthly, Bridget Burns is the founding executive director of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA). The UIA is the ground-breaking national consortium of public research universities working together to test and scale innovations that close achievement gaps and improve outcomes for all students. Since its founding in 2014, the UIA has increased the number of low-income degrees awarded by its member institutions by 29%, or 7,000 additional graduates per year. The Alliance has been featured in national outlets like 60 Minutes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Fast Company, and has inspired the formation of other university networks working to improve postsecondary success for low-income students.
For the past decade, she has advised university presidents, system chancellors, and state and federal policy leaders on strategies to expand access to higher education, address costs, and promote completion for students of all backgrounds. She is a former university system chief of staff, state higher education senior policy advisor, higher education governing board member, and American Council on Education fellow. A national associate with the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, Bridget has helped to hire, advise, represent, and advocate on behalf of more than 30 college presidents and chancellors. Bridget first entered higher education by attending a community college with a Pell Grant. She went on to complete her Ed.D in Higher Education, Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University.