Higher Education Innovation, LLC

605 Austin Ave,

Waco Texas, 76701

In the summer of 2018, HEI conducted a thorough study, analysis, and specialized training for enrollment management at Texas Southmost College.  HEI's work with the college boosted morale, and helped staff break free of their current mindset to view a new world of possibilities. I am confident that HEI contributed to – and continues to have a positive impact on – the forward movement of and enrollment growth at TSC.


Dr. Joanna Kile, Vice President of Instruction at Texas Southmost College


HEI is an innovative, entrepreneurial company that combines research, proven methods and best practices, and calls upon a stable of successful professionals to affordable assist colleges in making the critical pivots that are essential to move an institution from survive to thrive.


We begin by conducting an assessment of the institution to identify threats and opportunities. 


We offer a wide variety of critical services and training that are vital to a thriving institution of higher education today and in the years ahead. Our goal is to help as many colleges as possible to successfully pivot toward success for now and the future. 

Institutional/Divisional/Departmental Assessments

We conduct a three-day on-site assessment at the predetermined level, which consists of a day of SWOT, one day of focus groups interviews, and one day of individual interviews.  Then our experts analyze the findings and present a 30-60-page report with the top-ten most significant recommendations (and possibly secondary recommendations).  This entire process takes one month. We recommend this step to our clients as an excellent starting place. 


On-Site Expert Consulting

These vary in type and cost; however, they are all highly affordable.  We offer consulting, training and coaching in:

  • Innovation  Development

  • Entrepreneurial Development

  • Partnerships Development

  • Business and Industry Alliance Program Development

  • Student Services Development (Success in Recruiting, Admissions, Retention and more)

  • Custom Offerings that fall within the areas of our expertise


We have had a very strong impact on our client institutions in ways that have significantly enhanced their success.  We look forward to visiting with you about how HEI may help your institution. 

To receive information, options, and/or quotes for our consulting services, please contact:

Dr. Mary Darden


Email:  maryd@heitoday.org

Cell: 254-733-5388


  • Losing enrollment and/or experiencing low retention rates

  • Facing financial challenges

  • Are more than 85% tuition dependent

  • Dealing with high tuition discount rates

  • Operating with endowment that covers less than 25% of expenses

  • In need of a deep assessment to identify opportunities and threats

  • Struggling with knowing what types of changes need to be made

  • Dealing with internal cultural struggles

  • Living with legal liability risks

  • Facing constituent resistance

  • Struggling to keep up with changes in recruiting and admissions

  • Wondering if they need to start online programs and if so, how

  • Lack the necessary expertise to build partnerships with business and industry

  • Experiencing governance issues

  • Dealing with issues that threaten the future of the institution

  • Wanting to become more innovative and entrepreneurial

  • Trying to re-envision and better position themselves for an uncertain future

  • And more


Diversity & Equity



Revenue Stream Development


Legal Services

Customer Service

Recruiting & Admissions

Partnership Development

Leadership Training

Our Consultants:

Dr. Mary Landon Darden:

Higher Education futurist Mary Landon Darden is President of Higher Education Innovation, LLC and author of Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America and the soon to be released Entrepreneuring the Future of Higher Education: Radical Transformation in Times of Profound Change. She earned a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Baylor University, has nearly three decades of experience in college and university leadership, research, teaching, writing, and speaking, and currently offers higher education leadership/entrepreneurship workshops through HEI for college and university presidents and administrators.

Dr. Jay K. Box, Ed.D.

In 2014, Dr. Jay K. Box was named the second president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), which is ranked as one of the top 10 community college systems in the U.S. With more than 30 years of experience in community college leadership, Box served as the KCTCS Chancellor from 2009-2014, President of Hazard Community and Technical College from 2002-2007, and prior as Vice President at McLennan Community College.


Box was appointed as the sole community college system president to the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, serves on the national board for Rebuilding America’s Middle Class, the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges, the Kentucky Business-Education Roundtable, and is an ex-officio board member of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.


Box earned a doctorate in educational administration, higher education/community college specialty from Baylor University.

Hon. Chet Edwards:

The Hon. Chet Edwards served eight years in the Texas Senate and 20 years in the U.S. house of Representatives. In the Texas Senate Edwards was a member of the Senate education Committee, and Texas Monthly named him one of 10 outstanding legislatures. In the U.S. House Edwards was Chief Deputy Whip and served on the budget, Armed Forces, Veteran Affairs, and Appropriations Committees. He wrote the 2009 law that provides a full GI college scholarship to every military child in America who has lost a mother or father and service to the country. Edwards graduated in 1974 with a BA in economics, from Texas A&M University. And in 1981 received an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Edwards describes himself as a “recovering politician.”

Dr. Ellen Darden

Dr. Ellen Darden Ph.D. was initially hired by Mercedes Benz USA for her expertise in organizational systems, cybernetic thinking, change dynamics and clinical skills. There she worked domestically and internationally collaborating with owners, management and front line workers to create solutions by conducting thorough, culturally aware assessments; analyses; one on one consultations; team development work; trainings and more. Management teams, through intense strategic planning sessions with her, were able to realize what were previously thought to be unachievable goals.  Darden moves and works seamlessly among all levels of organizations, partnerships and communities. In the academic world, she was recruited by universities for her excellence in applied teaching at both undergraduate and graduate levels along with her ability to facilitate change, program development and accreditation.  Darden was a leader in the development, design and ongoing implementation of several academic programs, including a thriving graduate online MSW (Master of Social Work) program which consistently exceeded enrollment and financial expectations in a climate of shrinking enrollments.

605 Austin Ave, Waco TX 76701