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Commencement Speaker

James P. Merisotis
Jamie P. Merisotis
President & CEO,
Lumina Foundation

Jamie P. Merisotis

Jamie P. Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, will address Excelsior graduates at Commencement on July 11 in Albany, N.Y. The Lumina Foundation is the nation’s largest private foundation committed solely to enrolling and graduating more students from college. Merisotis leads the Foundation’s $1.3 billion endowment and oversees all staff and strategic decision making.

Long a champion of the idea that higher education enhances both society and individuals, Merisotis has worked for decades to increase educational opportunity among low-income, minority, and other historically underrepresented populations. At Lumina, Merisotis is continuing that effort by employing a strategic, outcomes-based approach in pursuing the Foundation’s mission of expanding college access and success. Under his leadership, Lumina has embraced an ambitious and specific goal: to ensure that, by 2025, 60 percent of Americans hold high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials — up from the current level of less than 40 percent.

Before joining Lumina in 2008, Merisotis was founding president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Established in Washington, D.C., in 1993, IHEP is an independent, nonpartisan organization regarded as one of the world’s premier education research and policy centers.

Merisotis’ work has been published extensively. He has written and edited several books and monographs and is a frequent contributor to magazines, journals, and newspapers. He has served as a regular commentator on the award-winning PBS show “Nightly Business Report”. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, National Journal, Times Higher Education Supplement (London), The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Huffington Post, Politico, Roll Call, and many other print and online publications.

He is a graduate of Bates College, where he majored in political science, and serves on its board of trustees.