Welcome to “Higher Ed Policy,” my new blog at Inside Higher Ed. Many of you may know me as the creator of “University of Venus,” the long-running blog at Inside Higher Ed that I launched with a group of amazing women in higher ed in the spring of 2010. “University of Venus” is still here and going strong, and I’ll still be editing and writing over there.

However, I also wanted to create a space for those of us interested in policy issues in higher education. Last year, I served as chief of policy and planning for Mayor Kim Janey in Boston, and I became fully immersed in municipal policy issues for New England’s largest city. My portfolio included broader policy issues beyond education, but it also included all education-related issues—from early education and care through PK-12 and on to higher education. I regularly met with leaders and other representatives from our local colleges and universities for COVID-19–related challenges and updates, and we also discussed initiatives such as career and college pathways work focused on Boston youth. In this role, I was also responsible for the day-to-day operations of boards and commissions, including the nomination and selection process for the Boston School Committee. I regularly staffed the mayor’s meetings with area university and college presidents and with the leadership of the Boston Public Schools, and I also staffed our meetings with the leadership of the Boston School Committee. I discovered that I really enjoy the impact that policy changes can have, especially in the area of racial equity.

When I returned to Boston University in October 2021, my time serving in city hall left me wanting more in the area of education policy. Last fall, I was fortunate to be able to participate in meetings and events with several groups, including the American Council on Education, the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the New England Commission of Higher Education. Working with members of these associations reminded me of how much I have always enjoyed working in the area of higher ed policy. As a longtime mentor recently told me, “Mary, you have been doing policy work for over 30 years!” And as my phenomenal representative Ayanna Presley likes to say, “Policy is my love language.” That resonates!

This past January, I took over leadership of Boston University’s higher education administration program, and I am excited to be teaching Higher Education Policy in the fall of 2022. As I moved more formally into this higher ed policy space, I found myself wanting to write about this work more and more, and this was how the idea of the “Higher Ed Policy” blog was born. In this blog, I will focus on issues like racial equity agendas, student loan forgiveness, early college, workforce readiness, affirmative action, food insecurity, support for first-generation students, test-optional initiatives and so much more! I will write about newly released reports, policy journal articles, events and convenings, and I will be interviewing higher ed policy experts. I’d love to hear from you. Let me know whom you would like me to interview, which reports you consider to be must reads and which events are can’t-miss events. If higher ed policy is one of your areas of expertise, send me your journal articles, invite me to your presentations and let’s find time to talk!

I look forward to creating this new space with you at “Higher Ed Policy” at Inside Higher Ed.


Mary Churchill is the former chief of policy and planning for Mayor Kim Janey in the city of Boston and current associate dean for strategic initiatives and community engagement and director of the higher education administration program at Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at Boston University. She is co-author of When Colleges Close: Leading in a Time of Crisis. She is on Twitter @mary_churchill and can be reached by email at [email protected].

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