Warwick, RI—At its meeting on August 2, 2017, the Board of Education unanimously approved the Council on Postsecondary Education’s appointment of Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier as Commissioner of Postsecondary Education. Governor Gina Raimondo joined the members of the Council on Postsecondary Education in casting a vote to appoint Dann-Messier.
“We have a lot of work to do to make sure Rhode Islanders are prepared with the postsecondary education and career skills that are going to drive our economy forward,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Dr. Dann-Messier has a proven track record in developing educational programs and policies that meet employer needs. I have full confidence in her leadership.”
“Dr. Dann-Messier has demonstrated that she has the talents and experience to address our greatest challenges and opportunities in RI higher education,” said Bill Foulkes, Chair of the Council on Postsecondary Education. “We are very lucky to have a Commissioner with her breadth of experience. Throughout her career, she has focused on promoting student success and developing the workforce at every level.”
“Dr. Dann-Messier really understands the system of higher education in Rhode Island and the needs of our students,” said Board of Education Chair Barbara Cottam. “Her work both locally and nationally shows her dedication to aligning postsecondary efforts with our PK-12 system, as well as with labor and training.”
Brenda Dann-Messier, Ed.D., has served as Rhode Island Acting Commissioner of Postsecondary Education since April 2017. Prior to joining the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, she served as US Assistant Secretary of Education in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education under President Obama (2009-2014). She led the US Department of Education’s efforts in adult education and career and technical education and helped shape the administration’s policies on community colleges and correctional education, and in 2013, she was named Acting US Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
“We have an ambitious attainment goal to reach, and I am very honored that the Council and the Board have chosen me to continue this important work,” said Dr. Dann-Messier. “I look forward to working closely with our institutional leaders to implement our key priorities for the system.”
Dr. Dann-Messier is an alumna of Rhode Island College, where she earned a B.A. in history and secondary education, as well as a master’s in instructional technology. She went on to earn an Ed.D. in educational leadership from Johnson & Wales University. Dr. Dann-Messier began her career in higher education at Rhode Island College and then the Community College of Rhode Island, before taking a position in the US Department of Education during the Clinton administration and later serving as President of Dorcas Place Adult and Family Learning Center in Providence. She served on the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education from 2006 to 2009 and on the Board of the Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority from 2007 to 2009. Dr. Dann-Messier is currently a Trustee of Johnson and Wales University in Providence, a Board member of the National Skills Coalition, and a Board member of the Institute for Educational Leadership.
The Commissioner of Postsecondary Education serves as chief executive officer of the Council on Postsecondary Education, the chief administrative officer of the Office of Postsecondary Commissioner, and the executive director of the Division of Higher Education Assistance. The Commissioner is charged with strategic planning for the system of public higher education, developing and implementing Council policies in support of an excellent, efficient, accessible and affordable system of higher education, and coordinating with the presidents of the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and the Community College of Rhode Island to meet the public higher education needs of the state.