• Dr. Mary Darden

Dr. Jay K. Box announced he will be joining HEI as Chief Leadership Innovation Officer

Updated: Jan 19

Today, long-time Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) President Dr. Jay K. Box announced he will be joining Higher Education Innovation, LLC (HEI) as Chief Leadership Innovation Officer



Dr. Jay Box will be retiring from KCTCS on September 30, 2020. 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, in Waco, Texas.


Box received the Lifetime Leadership Award at the 2020 HEI Presidents Conference on September 25. The award is presented each year to an outstanding higher education leader with more than 25 years of exemplary service; who has exceptional character, serving as a role model with the highest standards of integrity, honesty, dedication and humility; who has unselfishly given of their time and expertise for the betterment of others, education, and society; who has a history of outstanding accomplishments in practice, scholarship, and service; and who is a leader and contributor to the future success of higher education.

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.

KCTCS is ranked as one of the top 10 community college systems in the U.S. and includes 16 colleges and more than 70 campuses.

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

HEI’s mission is to research, study, and ultimately develop and provide entrepreneurial, innovative, and specialized training for higher education presidents and leaders to help their institutions move from survive to thrive.

Box will officially join HEI on October 1, 2020 as Chief Leadership Innovation Officer.

A few words from Dr. Box on his 30-year community college career and why he chose to join HEI:

Dr. Box, can you summarize your experience, impressions and predictions related to your time at KCTCS?

In my 36+ years in higher education—all within the community college sector, I have seen the demand for community college graduates continue to grow. This has been especially true after the great recession of this past decade when companies rebuilt with more middle-skill jobs than what they had prior to the recession. The graduates of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) have truly benefited. According to a 2019 Emsi study, KCTCS graduates’ average annual earnings continue to increase as they now can expect to make $9,100 more per year than an individual with just a high school diploma. Over their working lifetime, these KCTCS graduates can expect to earn $373,100 more than their high school graduate counterparts.

But in spite of the demand for our graduates and the support of business and industry, the last two decades have seen a disturbing trend in declining state government funding support for KCTCS and Kentucky’s eight public universities. In fiscal year 2000, the state allocated $5,231 (or 77.2%) of the total funding per KCTCS student. By fiscal year 2019, the state funding per KCTCS student had dropped to $1,626 or about 32% of the needed cost to educate the student. And although tuition has had to increase to supplant the loss in state funding, KCTCS has purposely kept tuition increases to a minimum so that a college education could remain affordable. To be able to keep tuition rates from soaring, KCTCS has had to become much more efficient. We have also had to put more emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurism. One big trend has been the development of partnerships with business and industry to help fund programs and to spur on innovation in the way we teach our programs. I predict that in the near future state resources for higher education will continue to decline or, at the best, will be flat. Thus, there will continue to be a need for innovation within our colleges and for the development of entrepreneurial college presidents to lead them.

Why have you decided to join Higher Education Innovation, LLC?

I’ve been very impressed with HEI’s mission of providing specialized training for college and university presidents and future presidents so that they have the necessary tools to successfully lead their institutions into a thriving future. In my opinion, the challenges educational leaders face today are as great as they have ever been. With my 36+ years in higher education leadership, I believe I can help HEI provide leaders with innovative ways to adapt and flourish in this age of radical change and challenges.

As a member of the HEI Leadership Team, what are some of the things that you hope to accomplish in the years ahead?

What I’d like to accomplish through my role on the HEI Leadership Team is to help new or aspiring higher education leaders gain confidence in their ability to be a great leader of an institution. Of course, there are other educational leadership programs across the nation. However, as I join the HEI team, I want to help establish Higher Education Innovation as THE leadership program that marries research with practical leadership experience in its efforts to develop today’s and tomorrow’s higher education leaders.

Why do you think a company like HEI is important to the future of higher education?

Higher Education Innovation brings together the best of research and experience to help institutional leaders think differently about the role their institution plays in creating a more educated society. HEI instills in leaders that following the tried-and-true ways of higher education leadership just may not be enough in a world that is rapidly and radically changing. This truly is a time for “out-of-the-box” thinking—the type of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking that HEI embraces in its programming.

Is there anything else you would you like to add?

I am excited about joining Higher Education Innovation, LLC. I’ve been very impressed with Dr. Mary Darden’s vision for HEI and the talented team of educators and consultants she has assembled. I believe that HEI is the right educational leadership company at the right time in our chaotic world. Today, a new higher education leadership style is needed, and HEI can help develop that new innovative leadership approach to move an institution from ordinary to exceptional. (J.K. Box, HEI Press Release, September 25, 2020)

HEI President Dr. Mary Landon Darden said that Dr. Jay Box is the perfect addition to the company’s higher education leadership training and preparation team.

Jay Box knows how to lead, and he knows how to raise up exemplary entrepreneurial leaders in higher education. I know what kind of leadership mentoring and coaching Jay Box provides, because I was one of his early mentees. His leadership encouraged me to reach beyond all limits and build one of the largest and most successful programs of its kind in the country resulting in a National Exemplary Award from the National Council of Continuing Education and Training (NCCET) in 2001. I have no doubt that he contributed significantly to my success and to my confidence in becoming a researcher, author, university campus dean, and now leader of HEI. Jay knows how to encourage and foster personal and professional growth and offers the support and expertise for individuals to reach to their highest potential. (Darden is the author of Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America and soon to be released Entrepreneuring the Future of Higher Education: Radical Transformation in Times of Profound Change.)

Contact Information:

Dr. Jay Box: jayb@heitoday.org

Dr. Mary Landon Darden: maryd@heitoday.org

Website: https://www.heisuccess.com

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