Chief Academic Officers Leadership Conference

November 4-5, 2019

Member & Affiliates: $439 per person 
Non-Member: $639 per person 

  • Location: ABHE Weber Center for Leadership Development, Orlando, FL
  • Full two-day program
  • Three night’s lodging at the nearby SpringHill Suites by Marriott
  • Refreshments and 7 meals
  • Conference resources

Download Program Schedule

Conference Overview: The chief academic officer (CAO) bears an unsurpassed responsibility for the flourishing and mission fulfillment of the institution. From the broad scope of responsibility including faculty leadership, learning resources, outcomes assessment and much more . . . to the effective creation and delivery of marketable programs – the CAO needs to get it right. Clarify your roles and responsibilities and sharpen the edge of your CAO leadership through the engagement with distinguished academic leaders. 

The Essential Roles and Responsibilities of the Chief Academic Officer (CAO)
Presenter: Ralph Enlow, President, Association for Biblical Higher Education, FL
Overview: The Lord Jesus admonished Martha, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed.” You might say that the CAO’s portfolio is vast and the demands can seem endless and divergent. From his four decades of educational leadership study, observation, and experience—a significant portion of which was spent sitting in the chair you now occupy—Ralph will help you understand what is central to the CAO calling and support your efforts to re-center the role around an unwavering grasp of those essentials.

    • Building a biblically-grounded personal and institutional educational philosophy
    • Synergizing with and supporting the president and your C-suite peers
    • Growing and empowering a top-notch mission-fit faculty
    • Developing curriculum that sizzles with students, serves stakeholders, and shows results
    • Resourcing everyone in your educational enterprise for success

Leading from the 2nd Chair – Synergy with the President
Presenter: Philip Dearborn, Provost, Lancaster Bible College, PA
Overview: Your partnership with the president can range anywhere between drudgery and delight; confrontation and synergy. How do you develop the best relationship that respects the roles and responsibilities and builds on each one’s strengths for institutional flourishing? Learn from a distinguished provost how he has threaded this important needle of top institutional leadership and enjoyed a thriving relationship.

    • Knowing the boundaries to respect and roles to fulfill
    • Developing a strong relationship of mutual respect and leadership
    • Why and how communication is key
    • Side-stepping landmines that can be fatal

Creating and Delivering World-Class Online Degree Programs
Brian Simmons, Assoc. Provost for Online Studies, Columbia International University, SC
Overview: What are the ingredients for creating and delivering world-class online educational programs? Where do you start? How do you assess the need for new online degree programs, take existing degree programs online and create new degree programs aligned with meeting these needs? Learn from an exceptional leader in online educational delivery what he has learned from adding or creating and/or overseeing 220+ online courses in 24 degree programs of study over the last 5 years.

    • Knowing where to start and making the right choices
    • Choosing the best design for delivery of online courses
    • Leading online studies in the areas of faculty development, finances and assessment
    • Avoiding pitfalls and mistakes
    • Embracing effective principles to follow

Leading Effective Faculty Meetings
Presenter: Cliff Churchill, Academic Dean, Hobe Sound Bible College, FL
Overview: Do your faculty meetings elicit a yawn, dread, or eager anticipation? What are secrets to inspiring and engaging faculty, creating team synergy toward a common vision? What’s the balance between fun, inspiration and effectiveness? Learn from a 40+ year veteran of academic leadership what has worked and consider some new, creative ideas.

    • Designing and leading meetings with purpose and effectiveness
    • Cultivating a culture of worship in faculty meetings
    • Secrets for creative engagement and broad-based ownership
    • Meaningful professional development in service presentations
    • Positive responses to negative faculty members and circumstances
    • Faculty meeting assessment and evaluation

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for Effective Academic Leadership
Evan Posey, VP for Academic Affairs, Luther Rice College and Seminary
Overview: Excellent academic leadership demands a good grasp on the KPI’s of an institution’s delivery of its degree programs. What are the important KPI’s you should watch and understand? How do you effectively gather and use the right data? How do the right KPI’s inform a smart dashboard system for effective academic leadership? Hone the edge of your leadership with the help of an accomplished academic leader who has a remarkable grasp of the right numbers.

    • Surveying the KPI’s of an academic system
    • Analyzing the meaning and implications of these KPI’s
    • Crafting a system for data collection
    • Creating a dashboard from relevant KPI’s
    • Reporting and explaining the right KPI’s – for faculty, executive team, and board

Faculty Recruiting and Professional Development
Lisa Beatty, VP for Academic Affairs, Emmaus Bible College 
Overview: Great institutions are served by great faculty; so how do you find and recruit them? What are secrets of effective recruiting – advertising, interviews, job descriptions, references and campus interaction? Learn from a veteran leader how to get it right . . . and recruit the right scholars that will enrich your campus. Once they’ve joined the team, what are effective plans for their ongoing professional development so they become world-class leaders in their field?

    • Starting with the right job description – what to say and look for
    • Conducting an effective search
    • Interviews that deliver the right insight and lead to a right decision
    • Creating a climate for continued professional development
    • Ideas for designing and funding high-value faculty development plans

Designing & Managing a Comprehensive Assessment System
Presenter: Pat Blewett, Dean, A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary, Simpson University, CA
Overview: Effective assessment is the ace of excellent academic leadership. So, what are the goals and essential design elements of a comprehensive assessment system? How do you put the system together and make it work? How does a great assessment system lead to continuous improvement and confirmation of educational outcomes? Walk through the process with a distinguished academic leader and learn how to take your assessment strategy to the next level.

    • The purpose and goals of assessment
    • Design elements and assessment strategy
    • Implementing a workable system
    • Gaining actionable insight from assessment

Grasping the Implications of Generational Differences
Michael Jackson, Assoc. VP of Academic Affairs, Heritage Christian University, AL
Overview: What changes are needed in our curriculum design and teaching methodology due to distinctives of the emerging generation? What are the generational markers creative faculty grasp and incorporate into their teaching style and learning objectives? Explore the unfolding nuances of connecting well to Gen Z students through the insights shared by a cutting-edge leader in the academy.

    • Sifting key insights from the ABHE/Barna research
    • Listening to the marketplace . . . and implementing changes
    • Incorporating insights through faculty training
    • Conducting a generational audit of your current programs
    • Leaning into the adventure of teaching a new generation

Lisa Beatty

Dr. Lisa Beatty is a native of Dubuque, Iowa. Her early passion was for music, and she earned degrees in vocal performance from Clarke University (B.A.) and the University of Iowa (M.A.). In 1992 she began teaching music at Emmaus Bible College, and a decade later added academic administration to her responsibilities. In 2013 she earned her PhD in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies from the University of Iowa and currently serves as Vice President/Dean for Academic Affairs at Emmaus.

Dr. Beatty also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Association for Biblical Higher Education. She has an active speaking ministry and has authored a series of articles on church music for Journey magazine. When she has a few spare moments, Lisa enjoys reading history, playing the piano and cello, decorating her home, and traveling. Dr. Beatty is married and has two adult daughters.

Patrick Blewett

Dr. Patrick Blewett was hired as dean of A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary in August 2013. He served most recently on the pastoral staff at Westside Church in Omaha, Neb. In addition to serving in pastoral positions throughout the U.S., Dr. Blewett has served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Columbia International University (South Carolina); academic vice president and dean of the faculty at Grace University; and dean of Grace College of the Bible in Omaha.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Montana Institute of the Bible; a master of arts in church education, master of divinity and doctorate of ministry from Western Seminary in Portland, Ore.; and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Idaho.

Cliff Churchill

Dr. Cliff Churchill has served for 25 years as Academic Dean of Hobe Sound Bible College and over 40 years in education.  This has included high school science teacher, Christian school principal, Bible college professor and college administrator. He served for four years on the ABHE Commission on Accreditation and currently is on the Appeal Board for the Commission. He has chaired a number of ABHE accreditation evaluation teams. He also serves on the Executive Board of the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (FACCS) and is a member of his local church Board. Dr. Churchill teaches online for several Christian universities and has written a number of graduate education courses.

Philip Dearborn

Philip DearbornDr. Philip Dearborn is the Provost at Lancaster Bible College|Capital Seminary and Graduate School. He is also serving as the Interim Dean of Capital Seminary and Graduate School. Over the last 21 years, Philip has served in numerous roles within LBC, starting his higher education career recruiting students in the Admissions Office. He then made the transition to Academic Affairs serving as the Registrar, Associate Vice President of Academic and Affairs, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and now Provost. Philip earned his doctorate from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Most recently, Philip coordinated the programmatic efforts related to constructing and moving into the “Teague Learning Commons,” the newest building on the LBC campus. This 42,000 sq. ft. building is the hub of LBC’s academic learning and resourcing.

Philip and his wife Amy live in Maytown, Pennsylvania, along with their three children – Michaela, Ryan, and Jack.

Ralph Enlow

Dr. Ralph Enlow has served as ABHE President since 2006. His four decades of service in biblical higher education includes roles as an institutional and association executive, consultant, instructor, and chair of several ministry and non-profit boards, including The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), International Council for Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). He has authored The Leader’s Palette: Seven Primary Colors, Ministry Education That Transforms: Modeling and Teaching the Transformed Life (co-authored with Robert Ferris and John Lillis), and Servant of All: Reframing Greatness and Leadership Through the Teachings of Jesus (anticipated, 2018), and has contributed to several other books and publications.

Michael Jackson

Dr. Michael Jackson serves as the Director of Institutional Effectiveness at Heritage Christian University in Florence, Alabama. He recently completed his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership (Higher Education) from Union University (Jackson, Tennessee) with his dissertation entitled “Cataloging and Comparing Bible College Efforts to Improve Student Retention and Completion.” In addition to over 10 years of service in an ABHE institution, Michael has over 16 years of experience in church ministry.

Evan Posey

Dr. Evan Posey is the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Luther Rice College & Seminary, and has served at the institution for 12 years. He lives in Madison, GA with his wife and six children. In addition to his Ph.D. in Theology and Apologetics from Liberty University, Evan has a degree in accounting from Georgia State University. Prior to his career in academia, Evan was an accountant at one of Atlanta’s top architectural firms. This unique combination of finance and ministry has helped Evan strike a balance between achieving the mission of Christian higher education and meeting financial benchmarks as they relate to program analysis.

Brian Simmons

Dr. Brian S. Simmons is the Associate Provost for Online Studies, Professor in the School of Education and Director of the PhD Program in Education at Columbia International University (CIU) in Columbia, South Carolina. In his current role, Dr. Simmons serves as a member of the President’s Cabinet providing leadership for CIU. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Crossroads Bible College and the Board of Directors of Ben Lippen School. Brian holds a BA-Cornerstone University; BS-Calvin College; MS-Indiana University South Bend; EdD-Ball State University; Certificate in Fund Raising Management-Indiana School of Philanthropy.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott – Orlando Airport
5828 Hazeltine National Dr,
Orlando, FL 32822
(407) 816-5533
SpringHill Suites Orlando Airport is an all-suite hotel offering you first class service, located minutes away from the Orlando International Airport (MCO), and features amenities, including free Internet access and on-site dining. The ABHE staff will make your hotel reservations for you.  Please indicate your room type/preference when you register for the conference.

Complimentary shuttle service is available from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to the SpringHill Suites. To request the complimentary shuttle from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to the SpringHill Suites:

  • Call the hotel for shuttle pickup – (407) 816-5533
  • Take airport elevator to level 1 – ground transportation
  • Go through the sliding doors
  • Stand at either A4 (A Side) or B4 (B Side) for pickup

Conference Staff

David Medders
Executive Vice President



Carol Dibble
Director of Communications & Events

Frequently Asked Questions

Is lodging included in the registration fee?

YES, 3 nights, including arrival the evening before the conference begins.

Are meals included in the registration fee?

YES, including 7 meals and all snacks/beverages.

Are scholarships available?

YES, limited scholarships are available.  Please email your request to with an explanation of your financial need.

Is airport shuttle service available?

YES! Complimentary shuttle service is available from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to the SpringHill Suites. To request the complimentary shuttle from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to the SpringHill Suites:

  • Call the hotel for shuttle pickup – (407) 816-5533
  • Take airport elevator to level 1 – ground transportation
  • Go through the sliding doors
  • Stand at either A4 (A Side) or B4 (B Side) for pickup
Where is the hotel located in relation to the ABHE Conference Center?

The ABHE Weber Center is located in the Citadel I Building, less than a mile away from the Orlando International Airport and a short walk from the SpringHill Suites by Marriott. Complimentary shuttle service is available from the hotel to the conference center.

How do I CANCEL a person on my registration?

You may log back into your registration form at any time with your confirmation number to make any cancellations, etc.

What is your Cancellation Policy?

In the event of registration cancellation, fees paid in advance are refundable – less a $50.00 service charge per person, provided written notice is received by ABHE no later than three weeks prior to the event. No refunds will be granted after that date. E-mail notification will suffice. Please e-mail to request a refund. There are no refunds provided for no-shows.