March 13-14, 2023

2023 National Conference

The second National Conference of the Coalition for Transformational Education (CTE) and our first in-person event.


Open to everyone


Two day conference with a
key note speaker each day


Arizona State University


March 13-14, 2023


The CTE is a growing coalition of diverse but like-minded institutions that are aimed at higher education’s “grand challenge.”  Over the past decade, colleges and universities have focused their efforts on student success as measured by increased graduation rates and reduced time to degree. These efforts have led to major gains, and they are ongoing. They also lead naturally to the next frontier in higher education which is success as measured by impact on students after graduation.  This goal is as appropriate to small liberal arts colleges as to regional and national public flagships with a dual mission of human development and work force development. If college is meant to prepare students to achieve financial viability, find meaning in their human relationships and their work, and contribute to the common good, higher education needs to figure out which experiences during a student’s education are most likely to lead to these life-transformative outcomes.  And it needs to make these experiences available to all students at scale. This is the grand challenge for higher education that animates the work of the Coalition for Transformational Education.

How does college contribute to a purposeful life and well-being?

This is the question a national consortium of higher education institutions is exploring, guided by strong evidence that how you learn in college – in addition to what you learn — influences your identity, agency and purpose in life. The Coalition for Transformational Education (CTE) includes presidents, provosts, faculty and administrators from colleges and universities across the country and a range of institutional types dedicated to improving the long-term flourishing and wellbeing of college graduates. Please join us as we work to build a broad and inclusive network of leaders in higher education who believe that it is our job to ensure that college is a transformational experience that sets our students on a path to success and fulfillment as they construct their lives. The CTE will be holding a national meeting (with remote options) on March 13 and 14 at Arizona State University. Continue to check this page for upcoming details.


Sunday, March 12, 2023

5:00pm—Welcome Reception
Location: University Club, Heritage Room (425 East University Drive, Tempe, AZ)

Welcoming remarks from conference organizers.  Heavy hors d’oeuvres and refreshments available.


Monday, March 13, 2023

Location: Old Main, Carson Ballroom (400 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ) SEE MAP


Buffet breakfast with an opportunity to meet and interact with other attendees.

8:30am—Welcome and Meeting Overview

Welcome from conference organizers and introductory remarks by Richard Miller (President emeritus of Olin College of Engineering) on the mission and goals of the CTE.

 9:00am—Keynote “Design Your Life – Sixteen years prototyping meaning and purpose in higher education” by Bill Burnett, Executive Director of the Life Design Lab, Stanford University (location)

My colleagues and I have been running the the “prototype” we call the Life Design Lab at Stanford for sixteen years, teaching classes for freshman, seniors, and PhD students, and working with over 300 colleges and universities around the globe to apply the innovation principles of design thinking to the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My talk focuses on what we learned on that journey, and what’s changed since 2007.


10:15am—“Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World: Life Design at Bowling Green State University” by President Rodney K. Rogers and Adrienne Ausdenmoore, Executive Director of the Geoffrey H. Radbill Center for College and Life Design

Life Design at Bowling Green State University provides a transformative experience for students to gain the tools and skills to design their college and post-college life. In addition to engaging with faculty for academic preparation, students work with Life Design coaches to learn design thinking skills so that they fully leverage all the experiences available to them during their time at the University with intentionality and resiliency. Thus, preparing them to live a productive and meaningful life.  In this session, Bowling Green State University President Rodney K. Rogers and Adrienne Ausdenmoore, executive director of the of the Geoffrey H. Radbill Center for College and Life Design, share why they launched Life Design at BGSU, including their work to secure $13.5M in private gifts to endow two centers for student success, how they engaged faculty and staff to embrace Life Design, and how it is impacting enrollment and retention.

10:45am—Session by Jonathan Adler, Professor of Psychology, Olin College of Engineering on “Storytelling: The Human Tool for Meaning, Purpose, and Identity

Scholarship from across a wide range of disciplines converges on the notion that storytelling is the tool humans have evolved for adapting to our complex social niche.  This talk will provide an introduction to the thriving science of personal narrative and its support for meaning, purpose, and identity.  It will also describe several examples of innovative applications of the science in support of life transformative higher education.

11:15am—Session by Maureen Linker, Professor of Philosophy, University of Michigan-Dearborn on “More Than A Single Story: UM-Dearborn Speaks

The University of Michigan-Dearborn, with funding through a grant from the Coalition for Transformational Education, undertook a project using digital storytelling to explore the identity, agency, and purpose of our students with a focus on challenging stereotypes about our community and our region. Students learned to challenge their assumptions about themselves, their potential for creativity and to become comfortable giving and receiving feedback through story circle sharing. In a concluding showcase in which digital stories were shared with friends, family and university leadership, attendees noted the raw honesty students displayed in their stories and the collaboration and support they showed in their responses to questions about their work and the overall project. The next phase of the project saw the students stepping into a mentorship role with a new group of students. We will share our progress and reflections about the project while discussing the move to the third phase where we will work with our students to create stories and resources for students and faculty who want to incorporate digital storytelling in the classroom.

11:45pm—Conference Photo

Photo opportunity with all meeting attendees to be posted on the CTE website.


Lunch with, and an update on the new CTE “Learning WELL” initiative by Marjorie Malpiede, Executive Director of the Mary Christie Institute.

1:00pm—Keynote “What does well-being actually look like?: Lessons Learned from the Harvard Study of Adult Development” by Robert Waldinger, Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development

Dr. Waldinger will speak about findings from the 85-year Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest longitudinal study of adult life ever done.  He will talk about the aspects of wellbeing that are central to health and happiness, and the implications for how we might reverse trends of social isolation and loneliness that are increasing among all age groups.

2:00pm—Session by Michael Bradford, and Dean for Undergraduate Education, University of California, Davis, Sarah Croucher, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, University of Connecticut and Jennifer Lease Butts, Associate Vice Provost, Enrichment Programs and Director, Honors Program, University of Connecticut on “Designing Purpose through LTE at the University of Connecticut”

At the University of Connecticut (UConn), we are infusing Life-Transformative Education into the culture of our university. The primary vehicle for this is our LTE guiding principles, which give a flexible framework for LTE implementation in every area of the institution. In implementing LTE and embedding the guiding principles throughout UConn, we have been utilizing a design thinking approach through a series of design sprints. Our presentation will discuss this design sprint approach, covering project-based design sprints that create vision and scale up LTE approaches at scale, and design sprints focused on strategy and leadership that help leaders across UConn explore how they can build out LTE in their areas. We will describe examples of this approach, including work from AY21/22 with our partners The Design Gym and current design sprints with Greenhouse Studios, our in-house design focused interdisciplinary research unit. We will also leave time open for dialogue with participants related to our guiding principles and design sprint approach to LTE.

2:30pm—“Research Learning Experiences Across Four Years and Seven Universities: The Maine Difference.” by John Volin, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Maine

We are scaling Life-Transformative Education (LTE) across a state-wide university system of seven universities, from the State’s comprehensive R1 land grant university to small regional universities focused on undergraduate and professional education. In addition, we are expanding LTE across all four years of our students’ experience. This presentation will focus on Research Learning Experiences, which were piloted in fall 2021 and are available to all first-year students.


3:15pm—Panel Session on higher education’s role on the mental health of recent graduates based on a new survey showing high rates of mental distress and “burnout”  among young professionals.  Moderated by Marjorie Malpiede, Executive Director of the Mary Christie Institute and featuring Clayton Spencer, President of Bates College, Stephanie Marken, Partner at Gallup, and Lynn Pasquerella, President of the AAC&U.

Panelists will discuss the findings and consider: What can colleges do to better prepare students for the changes that will occur as they enter the workforce?  Are we setting our students up for a life of mental wellbeing as well as career success?

4:15pm—Session by Stephanie Marken, Partner at Gallup, on “Gallup’s Work on Wellbeing in Higher Education”

Gallup’s research connecting higher education experiences to well-being outcomes in alumni has had a profound effect on our traditional thinking about teaching and learning.  In this session, Stephanie Marken, who leads Gallup’s higher education segment, provides an overview of the body of work that is the analytical underpinning of the CTE mission.  

4:30pm—Session by Nicole Willcoxen and Zachary Hrynowski, Gallup Research Director and Gallup Research Consultant on “Measuring What Matters: A Data-Driven Approach to Transforming Students’ Postgraduation Lives”

Since 2014, the Gallup Alumni Survey has interviewed over 100,000 bachelor’s degree holders to better understand how many graduates are thriving in their lives and jobs, and which college experiences lead to those outcomes. With those findings in mind, CTE has designed and launched a survey that measures how its partner universities are performing on those key metrics right now. By tracking progress and areas of opportunity during enrollment – rather than after graduation – universities can ensure that as many students as possible are exposed to the types of college experiences that have the potential to transform their postgraduation lives. Gallup will share its research related to those transformative experiences, summarize findings from Year 1 of the CTE Student Survey, and preview changes and research objectives for the second year of the research.

5:00pm—Summary and Preparation for Day 2 by Archie Holmes, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the University of Texas System

5:15pm—Conclusion of Day 1 and Social Hour

An opportunity for attendees to engage with others and discuss the conference before dinner.


Dinner for all conference attendees with remarks entitled “Student Well Being and Mental Health: A Public Health Agenda for Higher Education” by Nancy Gonzales, Executive Vice President and University Provost.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Location: Old Main, Carson Ballroom (400 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ) SEE MAP


Buffet breakfast with an opportunity to interact with other attendees around the themes of the meeting.

8:30am—Workshop “Life Launch: A small group program to clarify life goals and make new personal connections” by Robert Waldinger, Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development

Dr. Waldinger will discuss a 5-session small group program developed by the Lifespan Research Foundation.  Each 90-minute session is facilitator-led online or in person, and is designed as a kind of “life check-up.” The workshop will be a discussion of the possible uses of this program in undergraduate groups to foster connection, ease isolation, and help young adults better understand their own priorities as they move through the critical years of undergraduate education.

9:30am—“Liberal Education and Everything Everywhere All at Once” by Lynn Pasquerella, President of the AAC&U

This session uses the 2023 Academy Award nominated film Everything Everywhere All at Once as a jumping off point for exploring liberal education’s foundational role in helping students find the meaning and purpose central to a life transformative education, while detailing the ways in which the American Association of Colleges and Universities is facilitating this type of learning experience for every student across all institutions.


10:15am—“Work+ : Student Employment as a Transformative Working and Learning Experience” by Brandee Popaden-Smith, Director of Work plus Learn, Scott Travis, Program Director of Work+, Shannon Looney, National Scaling Facilitator, and Amy Michalenko, Senior Program Manager, University College

Leveraging thousands of existing student employment jobs – largely filled by students facing the most barriers to postsecondary and career success – Work+ is transforming student employment at ASU into an authentic learning experience. By developing working learners’ career readiness competencies, coaching them to articulate their professional story and training supervisors to serve as mentors, the program seeks to address inequities in career readiness preparation and access to meaningful experiential learning opportunities. During this session, program team members will share a brief evolution of the program, insights garnered through co-design efforts internal and external to the institution, as well as share future plans for national scaling efforts.

11:15am—“The Road Ahead for the CTE” moderated by Richard K. Miller, President emeritus of Olin College of Engineering

Interactive session with participants working in groups to brainstorm areas of focus and implementation plans for the future of the CTE.

11:45am—Conference Summary, Richard K. Miller, President emeritus of Olin College of Engineering

12:15pm—Lunch and Networking 

Box lunch for those departing in the afternoon.

 3:00pm—Optional tour of the Dreamscape Learn experiencespace is limited to the first 24 interested attendees


Where to Stay

Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown
108 E. University Drive
Tempe AZ 85281


Book your Preferred ASU Rate

  • Complimentary WI-FI 
  • Complimentary Bikes and access to Fitness Center 
  • Conveniently located to ASU, Gammage and Mill Avenue, walking distance to dining, shopping and nightlife 


Tempe Mission Palms
60 East Fifth Street, Tempe, AZ 85281
Book your Preferred ASU Rate

  • Valet or self-parking (included in destination fee)
  • Access to health club and fitness center (included in destination fee)
  • Airport Shutte Service (included in destination fee)
  • High-speed wireless Internet access (included in destination fee)
  • Discounted hospitality fee to $12.95 plus tax per room, per night (regularly $19.95 plus tax per room, per night)


The Westin Tempe
11 E. 7th Street, Tempe, AZ 85281

Book your Preferred ASU Rate

  • Complimentary High Speed Wi-Fi
  • Complimentary access to WestinWorkout
  • ½ block from Mill Ave. District; walking distance to over 70 dining options
  • Destination Fee Waived ($22 per night value)
  • Destination Fee includes the following:
    • Daily Enhanced High Speed Wi-Fi
    • $25 Food and Beverage credit in Cup of Joe, Terra Tempe, or SkySill Rooftop
    • Bike Rental for 2 (2 hour max)
    • 1 free Drip Coffee for up to (2) guests at Cup of Joe

ASU offers many options for visitor parking. Fulton Center Parking Structure is just across the street from where the conference will take place, and attendees that are driving to the conference are encouraged to park here. 

Other options include: 

Apache Boulevard, Novus Parking Structure, Packard Drive South, Rural Road, Stadium, Myrtle Avenue (formerly named 10th Street), Tyler Street and University Towers garages. 

  • Rates: 

    • 1 hour or less — $4. Maximum rate: $16.

    • 1-2 hours — $8.

    • 2-3 hours — $12.

    • 3-4 hours — $16. 

  • *Monday through Sunday, 24 hours. 

*Parking hours unless signage states otherwise.