|Gregory G. Fitch, Ph.D., was named executive director of the Alabama
Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) in July, 2006, having served as a state higher education
executive officer (SHEEO) in two other states (Missouri and Idaho).
Dr. Fitch has served in chancellor and president roles in three community college systems and
as the founding president of the Utah College of Applied Technology – an institution established
to promote economic development through the creation and support of a qualified workforce.
He holds a Ph.D. in administration, curriculum and instruction from the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln, a M.A. in English from Emporia State University and a B.A. in English
with a minor in sociology and education from Washburn University
The Kansas City, Missouri native is a Vietnam War Veteran who initially began his career
after military service in public
law enforcement in the greater Kansas City area. He entered
the field of education as a public school teacher and has taught classes ranging from elementary
to college level.
The functions of a coordinating board for higher education are multi-faceted. Dr. Fitch
has been a strong proponent of
the Commission’s three-fold mission of accessibility,
affordability, and coordination. The mission is consistently reflected
in ACHE’s focus on
critical major higher education issues. He has advocated additional funding for the Alabama
Student Assistance Program which provides funds to help those students who demonstrate substantial
The coordination efforts extend beyond education with partnerships involving business
and industry. As a statutorily designated state student data center, ACHE’s data
information provides a key tool for economic development. Profiles, the Student
Database publication, is being widely used by economic developers and recruiters.
The data content, which is the only source available to follow a student’s progress
from K-12 through higher education, enables recruiters to determine the number of
students in specified fields of study. This link between the education and the
business communities is a key component in moving Alabama ahead in the marketplace.
The data provides up-to-date information on remedial needs, accessibility, performance
measures, and overall educational content. This solidifies ACHE’s commitment to its
partners with every effort designed to support students.
Transparency and cooperation are emphasized through ACHE. This concept is promoted
through a public forum on the website which allows for comments on upcoming higher
education issues and program review. As a watchdog of the public trust, ACHE has
taken a strong stand against the influx of diploma mills into Alabama.
Regulations have been strengthened and enforced to protect Alabamians from money-making
schemes with little return on the investment.
As part of ACHE’s statutory responsibility, work is being done on a five-year
statewide plan for higher/postsecondary education. A committee representing education,
business/industry, and community representatives will be convened
in 2015 to develop
this comprehensive plan.
In all, ACHE serves as a conduit to improve communication, support educational interest
at all levels, and partner with business and industry to serve citizens of the state.