Author Profile

Aaron Brower | Executive Director of Extended Campus, University of Wisconsin System

Current Position and Past Experience
Aaron Brower is the Executive Director of UW Extended Campus, a new entity created in 2018 by the University of Wisconsin System to expand access and provide a quality UW education to adult and professional students. Brower is also Senior Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs for the University of Wisconsin System.

By partnering with all 13 UW System campuses, UW Extended Campus fulfills the “Wisconsin Idea” - extending the university’s physical boundaries to the borders of the State of Wisconsin and beyond.

UW Extended Campus currently employs about 170 staff and has an annual operating budget of about $64M. It coordinates and oversees continuing and professional education, primarily but not exclusively online, across the UW System. UW Extended Campus currently leverages about $16M in public funds to generate about $49M with all UW campuses. The UW Extended Campus currently runs the UW Flexible Option, the Collaborative Degrees, Independent Learning, and the University Learning Store, all of which are national award-winning programs. UW Extended Campus also works in cooperation with a number of state, regional, national, and international organizations and associations committed to higher education.

Brower helped create, and continues to lead, the UW Flexible Option - the competency-based educational program for the UW System and State of Wisconsin. UW Flex is the first-in-the-country program that provides students a way to receive degrees and certificates through competency-based and direct-assessment methods from existing public higher education institutions.

Prior to leading UW Extended Campus, Brower was the Provost and Vice Chancellor of UW-Extension, a position he began in 2012 and resumed after serving as Interim Chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension in 2014. Prior to that, he was UW-Madison's Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning, where he was responsible for guiding and supporting undergraduate education and professional development. Brower remains a tenured professor at UW-Madison in the School of Social Work, and in the departments of Integrated Liberal Studies and Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis. He was the principal investigator for over $18 million in grants, and has written more than 50 articles on student learning, student life, and student success.

Brower's expertise is in educational innovations, project-based learning, student learning and outcome assessment – engaging the whole university on issues important to students and the people of Wisconsin. His work demonstrates that students’ academic and social outcomes are produced when college environments blend in- and out-of-class learning and experiences to create communities of students, faculty and staff who share common learning goals (i.e., learning communities). He has created and led many teaching and learning programs focused on integrative learning and evidence-based curricular reform, with an emphasis on high-impact learning practices.

Education, Honors and Achievements
Brower earned his BA in psychology, MSW, MA in psychology, and Ph.D. in social work and psychology from the University of Michigan. He is the recipient of several awards for his work, including named in 2006 as one of the nation’s Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates by Houghton Mifflin and the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience.

Brower writes a periodic series for Evolllution about competency-based education entitled "Navigating the CBE Frontier," which can be accessed below. He has also co-written numerous articles on The EvoLLLution, including Politics, Money and Public Higher Education: A Perfect Storm. "Politics, Money and Public Higher Education: A Perfect Storm" with David Schejbal and Rebecca Karoff, "The Evolution of the College Degree Toward Competency" with David Schejbal and "The Wisconsin Idea: Under Siege but Stronger Than Ever" with Jeffrey S. Russell and Katherine Cramer.

Please click here to learn more about the University of Wisconsin Extended Campus.