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Strategic Initiatives is a Recognized Thought Leader and Practitioner In Transforming Higher Education

Over the past 30 years we have literally written the books on technology-driven transformation and put the principles into practice. We have assembled a team of seasoned leaders and practitioners to mentor, coach, and facilitate higher education leaders in transforming in turbulent times.


Our philosophy is to teach leaders how to fish, not to do the job for them.  In the coming decade, higher education leaders will need to mobilize and develop leadership and talent at all levels of their institutions. Transforming for Turbulent Times provides the vision, perspectives, methodologies, tools, and techniques needed to create the new breed of open, innovative college and university for the 2030 future.


A Seasoned Team, Experienced in Transformation. The authors of this Action Agenda bring over 100 years of experience in higher education to the task.  We are steeped in and respectful of the traditional higher education culture. However, we also believe that this culture must transform quickly to meet the rapidly changing needs of society, or it will become a relic of the past.


Donald Norris


Our lead partner is Donald Norris, who worked at The University of Michigan, The University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Houston as an institutional researcher and strategic planner for over ten years and then moved into strategy, transformation, and leadership consulting. He has provided leadership in this arena for the last 30 years.  Most of that time, he has served as President of Strategic Initiatives, Inc.  He has co-authored over 20 books and monographs on transformative change. The core theory, frameworks, tools, and practices presented in this Action Agenda have been developed and refined by him and his many collaborators over the years.  This book and associated resources represent a culmination of his life’s work as a leader in strategic thinking and transformation in the higher education and nonprofit worlds. They also demonstrate our joint commitment to share insights that can guide current and rising leaders in transforming and regenerating.

Joseph (Tim) Gilmour


Joseph (Tim) Gilmour worked in progressively responsible administrative and leadership positions in higher education for 40 years. In that time, he served as an Executive Assistant to the President of the University of Maryland College Park, Vice President for Strategic Planning at Georgia Tech, Provost at Northwest Missouri State University, and President of Wilkes University. The themes for his work have been strategic thinking and performance excellence. At Wilkes, he was recognized for leading and mobilizing a team that forged new partnerships and collaborations that significantly increased enrollments, new revenues, and talent development. Since his retirement, he has served as a Principal for Strategic Initiatives and worked on the development of a web-based Presidential Assessment Processes.

Linda Baer


Linda Baer has spent her career as a faculty member and as an academic leader in the Minnesota State University System, retiring as the System Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs. She was tapped to serve as Interim President of one of the System’s institutions and as Interim Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. She also led many of the university’s widely admired innovations and expeditions in digital learning, e-portfolios, and workforce connections.  Since leaving the MnSCU System, she has served as Senior Fellow with Civitas Learning, Senior Program Officer in Postsecondary Success for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and a Principal at Strategic Initiatives. Linda’s extensive connections throughout the higher education community and her long-term commitment to and knowledge of student success, using data analytics for informed action, and transformational leadership fields make her a critical member of our writing group.  She has authored numerous articles on smart change and transformation in higher education, the use of analytics to improve student success, and books on partnerships. More recently, she co-edited An Analytics Handbook: Moving from Evidence to Impact (2020).

The three of us have collaborated over the past 25 years in a series of publications and high visibility projects. Our subjects have included transforming higher education, unbundling academic resources and roles, crafting expeditionary strategies, reinventing processes, reimagining business models, discovering new revenue streams, optimizing student success through action analytics, taking digital learning to scale, advancing innovation and entrepreneurship, orchestrating change, and developing next gen leaders.



In addition to our thought leaders, Strategic Initiatives has assembled a core team of twenty seasoned practitioners that will be able to support them in coaching and consulting activities.  

Our efforts have involved coaching, mentoring, and guiding our clients in understanding and then transforming their organization in response to challenging external forces.
Our mission has been made much easier over the past few years by the growing appreciation of the continuing and growing turbulence of the higher education environment and the need for decisive action.
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