House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo Among Massachusetts Recipients of 2014 New England Higher Education Excellence Awards

  • Other Bay State Recipients Include edX, Mass College of Liberal Arts Prez Mary Grant
  • Honorees to be recognized at March 2014 Dinner in Boston

Contact: John O. Harney, 617-533-9501 or

Boston–The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) will honor Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, when the regional organization holds its 12th annual New England Higher Education Excellence Awards celebration on March 7, 2014, at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel in Boston.

Other 2014 NEBHE honorees from Massachusetts will include edX, the massive open online course (MOOC) platform governed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) President Mary K. Grant.

More than 400 people will attend this event, including leaders of education, business and government from across the six New England states.

“Our 2014 Massachusetts honorees represent the innovation and courage that define New England.” said NEBHE President and CEO Michael K. Thomas.

Robert A. DeLeo  

House Speaker DeLeo (D-Winthrop) will be awarded NEBHE’s 2014 Governor Walter R. Peterson Award for Leadership. A lawyer, DeLeo has represented Winthrop and part of Revere, Mass., in the Massachusetts Legislature since 1991.

As a result of his leadership, Massachusetts has become a leader in boosting higher education funding including initiatives to improve college-completion rates and make higher education more accessible and affordable. Through increased funding in this year’s budget the Legislature, working with UMass, was able to achieve a tuition freeze and 50-50 tuition split.

His support of the University of Massachusetts 50-50 plan, under which the state and students would provide an equal share of funding for UMass educational programs over two years, helped reverse a trend of students and their families providing a larger share of the funding needed to support core academic programs than the state and then taking on more debt to make up the difference.

The new state budget that DeLeo guided through the Massachusetts Legislature increases public higher education funding by nearly 17%, including a 9% for the five-campus UMass system. His actions led UMass, the nine state universities and 15 community colleges to impose a freeze on tuition and mandatory student fees for the first time in a decade.

Before becoming speaker, DeLeo chaired the House Ways and Means Committee, where he oversaw a 17% increase in student scholarships and led the state’s first-ever legislation to explicitly recognize the role of public universities as key to the state’s economy. The latter led to strategic projects such as the Venture Development Center at UMass Boston, the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center at UMass Lowell, and the Massachusetts Accelerator for Sic-Manufacturing in Fall River, developed by UMass Dartmouth.

He also steered approval of the Higher Education Capital Improvement Act, which authorized $1 billion over 10 years to UMass projects in what was the first major investment in higher education infrastructure in decades, as well as Gov. Deval Patrick’s 10-year, $1 billion initiative to promote the development of the life sciences industry in Massachusetts.

In the 2012 Economic Development Law, DeLeo included funding to create the MassTech Intern Partnership, a program designed to keep more of Massachusetts’ best students in the state after graduation.

DeLeo holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and a law degree from Suffolk University Law School.


EdX, the MOOC platform founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, will receive the Robert J. McKenna Award for Program Achievement.

EdX was founded in May 2012 to host online university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines to a worldwide audience at no charge and to conduct research into learning. EdX has 1.6 million users. The two institutions have each contributed $30 million of resources to the nonprofit project. There are 31 schools that offer or plan to offer courses on the edX website.

Each week, a new learning sequence is released in an edX course. The learning sequence is composed of short (an average of 10 minutes each) videos interspersed with active learning exercises where students can immediately practice the concepts from the videos. Through the learning sequence design, the professor delivers the course material.

The courses also often include tutorial videos that are similar to small-group, on-campus discussion groups, an inline textbook, and an online discussion forum where students can post and review questions and comments to each other and teaching assistants. Where applicable, online laboratories are incorporated into the course.

EdX offers certificates of successful completion at no cost, but does not offer course credit. Whether another college or university offers credit for an online course is up to that institution.
The “learning platform” has been developed as open-source software and made available to other institutions of higher learning that want to make similar offerings.

Mary K. Grant

Grant will be awarded the Massachusetts State Merit Award. The 11th president of MCLA, she is the first alumna of the college to serve as its president.Under her leadership, MCLA has expanded academic programming and facilities; provided students with new study away, internship, research, and service opportunities; overseen growth in enrollment; strengthened the connections between the college and the community; launched the college’s first comprehensive capital campaign; and become part of the Massachusetts State University System.In response to these initiatives, MCLA has been designated a top ten public liberal arts college for the last three years.

Grant also has provided leadership to advance the Commonwealth’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) agenda, spearheading efforts leading to MCLA successfully securing $54 million to fund the new Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation and renovate Bowman Hall.

She chairs  the Council of Presidents of the Massachusetts Statewide University System.She also serves on the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Advisory Council, the Commonwealth Covenant Fund, the Board of MassINC, and the University of Massachusetts Boston Board of Visitors. Grant recently served as chair of the Board of the Massachusetts Campus Compact and is past President of the Board of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC). She established the Berkshire Compact for Education, a countywide initiative focused on strengthening education in Berkshire County; serves on numerous state and regional boards; and has received awards for her advocacy for public higher education, civic engagement and community service.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree from MCLA, Grant holds a doctorate in social policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University and master’s in public affairs from the John W. McCormack Institute of Public Affairs at UMass.

NEBHE’s Awards

Each year, NEBHE presents Regional Excellence Awards to individuals and organizations that have shown exceptional leadership on behalf of higher education and the advancement of educational opportunity, and State Merit Awards to honor the innovative work of organizations, institutions or individuals in each New England state.

NEBHE’s 2014 regional award recipients include:

Robert A. DeLeo, Speaker, Massachusetts House of Representatives
The Governor Walter R. Peterson Award for Leadership
Elsa M. Núñez, President, Eastern Connecticut State University
The Eleanor M. McMahon Award for Lifetime AchievementedX, governed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University
The Robert J. McKenna Award for Program AchievementEdward C. Dupont, Former Chair, Board of Trustees, University System of New Hampshire
Gary W. Moore, Chair, Board of Trustees, Vermont State Colleges
The David C. Knapp Award for Trusteeship

State merit awards of 2014 go to:

Fairfield University/Bridgeport City Schools Partnership

Connecticut State Merit Award
Target Technology Incubator, University of Maine

Maine State Merit Award

Mary K. Grant, President, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Massachusetts State Merit Award

Franklin Pierce University/Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary Club Camp Quest Program

New Hampshire State Merit Award

Adrian van Alphen, Director, Rhode Island Student Loan Authority

Rhode Island State Merit Award

J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation

Vermont State Merit Award 

Additional information about NEBHE’s New England Higher Education Excellence Awards is available online at

For sponsorship information, contact: call Marla Phippen at 617-357-9620 x119 or email:


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>