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Bridget Burns

Bridget Burns

Chief Executive Officer

As a trusted advisor to university presidents and policymakers, Dr. Bridget Burns is on a mission to transform the way institutions think about and take action on behalf of low-income, first generation, and students of color. She is the founding CEO of the University Innovation Alliance, a multi-campus laboratory for student success innovation that helps university leaders dramatically accelerate the implementation of scalable solutions to increase the number and diversity of college graduates.

Named one of the “16 Most Innovative People in Higher Education” by Washington Monthly magazine, Dr. Burns has helped the UIA campuses increase their low-income graduates by 46%, and increase graduates of color by 85% since 2014. Her work has been highlighted in national outlets like The New York Times, Fast Company60 Minutes, and was featured in the documentary “Unlikely." 

Before launching the UIA, Dr. Burns was an American Council on Education Fellow at Arizona State University where she worked directly with ASU President Michael Crow, the founding chair of the UIA board. Before her ACE Fellowship, she had an extensive higher education career in Oregon including service as the Senior Policy Advisor and Chief of Staff for the Oregon University System. She received the 2012 Edward Crawford award for innovation in government relations for her role leading expansive higher education governance reform legislation passage in the state of Oregon. 

Bridget was recognized by Diverse Issues as one of "35 Leading Women in Higher Education" in 2020. She served on the California Higher Education Recovery with Equity Task Force at the request of Governor Gavin Newsome, and has received numerous gubernatorial appointments to various Oregon state boards overseeing higher education institutions, student financial aid, and policies impacting children and families in Oregon. Dr. Burns was an Associate for the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and currently serves on the advisory board for Working Nation. 

Bridget received her Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Masters degree in Public Policy from Oregon State University, and her Doctorate of Education in Higher Education, Leadership & Policy from Vanderbilt University.

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