By PETER MURPHY
Published October 18, 2022
Lisa Stephens, assistant dean for digital education in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and senior strategist of academic innovation in the SUNY provost’s office, has received the 2022 Community Leadership Award from EDUCAUSE.
EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through use of information technology, says Stephens received the award “for exhibiting leadership in exemplary cross-institutional innovation and collaboration; inspiring interest, talent and energy toward a common effort; and for maintaining unwavering commitment to applying the ideals of higher education for bettering individual lives and society as a whole.”
“It’s amazing to have efforts acknowledged by colleagues from all over the world for doing what I enjoy. We work collectively in a noble profession and it’s not always easy work,” Stephens says. “It’s very humbling because there are so many talented people deserving of recognition.”
Over the past several years, Stephens has been recognized with multiple awards, including a SUNY Chancellor’s Award in 2021 and ASEE Award for “Best Presentation” at the Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration in 2022. The EDUCAUSE Community Leadership Award calls out many of Stephens’ career achievements, including her pioneering work as one of the founders of the Flexible Learning Environments eXchange (FLEXspace.org), an innovative tool for educators.
In her role as assistant dean for digital education, Stephens is responsible for strategic and operational support of online program development and innovation. She has been instrumental in growing the engineering school’s online and hybrid programs, and increasing opportunities for prospective students and professionals to update their skills through badges, micro-credentials and degree programs. Engineering dean Kemper Lewis says Stephens’ impact is significant.
“I am absolutely delighted that Lisa is being recognized with this prestigious award. Her collaborative and inclusive leadership continues to impact programs and people across not only our institution, but around the globe,” Lewis says. “Her commitment to unwavering excellence, instructional innovation and synergistic partnerships has made her a renowned thought leader in higher education platforms and technologies.”
As a senior strategist for academic innovation with the SUNY provost’s office, Stephens provides leadership and operational support for several programs, including SUNY Coursera, FLEXspace.org and the Innovation Instruction Technology Grants (IITG), all programs she has helped launch and lead since their inception. She also represents both SUNY and UB at national and international conferences and events.
Stephens began her career as a broadcast engineer in Chicago. After about a decade, she returned home to Western New York and joined UB in 1996 as an instructional support specialist in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She then held several positions in the university, including as associate director of distance learning operations, program director of distance education and videoconference operations (DEVO) and associate director of IT Policy and Communications in the Office of the CIO before arriving at her current position.
“I am grateful to the friends, colleagues and leadership at UB and across SUNY for enabling growth of these efforts over the past 25 years,” Stephens says. “This is an award for community leadership, and I’m truly blessed to have been immersed with supportive, enthusiastic colleagues who did a lot of hard work collaborating to enable this opportunity. This award belongs to all of us.”