National University Recognizes Dr. Edward J. Leach with Pathways to Possibility Partnership Award at 2024 NISOD Conference

Nationally recognized educational leader receives prestigious award upon retirement in honor of his contribution to 35 years of higher education teaching, learning, and leadership

Austin, TX (May 30, 2024) — National University (NU), one of the largest Minority Serving universities in the United States, committed to innovating around access and success for non-traditional, working and military learners, recognized Dr. Edward J. Leach, executive director of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), with the National University Pathways to Possibility Partnership Award in honor of his outstanding contributions in higher education. Leach has dedicated over two decades of his career to providing community and technical college educators access to high-quality professional development.

“Over the last 35 years, Dr. Leach has been a catalyst for advancing educational transformation and set a standard for excellence in his work as a difference-maker through professional development programs, professional organizational leadership, and research and publication,” said Dr. Mark D. Milliron, president and CEO of National University. “He is an inspiration to all of us who believe in the power of transformation through lifelong learning, and well deserving of the first Pathways to Possibility Partnership Award.”

The National University Pathways to Possibility Partnership Award recognizes difference-makers who have been catalysts for transformational change and demonstrate resilience, determination, and a commitment to opening the doors of pathways to possibility. Leach is nationally recognized as a difference-maker as evidenced by his exemplary leadership of national organizations, his dedication to opening the doors of pathways to possibility in excellence in teaching, learning and leadership, and his service to others throughout his impressive educational and leadership career.

The award was presented to Leach during the NISOD Conference on Monday, May 27, 2024, by Dr. Gerardo de los Santos, vice president of community college relations at National University and inductee into the American Association of Community College Leadership Hall of Fame.

“It was my honor to recognize Dr. Leach for his contributions to higher education, visionary leadership and tireless dedication for over three decades,” said Dr. Gerardo de los Santos. “Dr. Leach has served as an inspirational role model through his own pathway to possibility as a first-generation college graduate to a nationally recognized and respected educational leader. He truly symbolizes our NU vision to serve lifelong learners who contribute to the positive transformation of society.”

According to NISOD, Leach began his college education as a first-generation college student and Pell Grant recipient at Genesee Community College (GCC), earning an associate degree in Liberal Arts/General Studies, before adding a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and, finally, a doctorate in Educational Administration from The University of Texas at Austin.

“I am truly honored to be the first recipient of the National University Pathways to Partnership Award,” said Dr. Edward Leach. “To receive this award during NISOD’s conference and to be able to share the moment with so many of my colleagues is an experience I will always treasure. It has been my distinct pleasure to serve as NISOD’s executive director and help position the organization as the premier professional development resource dedicated to achieving excellence in community and technical colleges.”

According to NISOD, Leach’s resignation will be effective August 15, 2024.

About National University: National University, a Veteran-founded nonprofit, has been dedicated to meeting the needs of nontraditional, working, and military students by providing accessible, affordable higher education opportunities since 1971. As San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, NU offers over 190+ online and on-campus programs with flexible four-week and eight-week classes and one-to-one graduate education models designed to help students reach their goals while balancing busy lives. Since its founding, the NU community has grown to 130,000 learners served per year—50,000 degree-seeking students and 80,000 workforce and professional development students—and 230,000 alumni around the globe, many of whom serve in helping industries such as business, education, health care, cybersecurity, and law and criminal justice. To learn more about National University’s new possibilities in education including next-generation education, value-rich education, and whole human education, visit


The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) is a membership organization committed to empowering faculty, administrators, and staff at community and technical colleges to grow professionally, strive for excellence, make an impact, and gain recognition. NISOD achieves its mission by providing budget-friendly, high-quality, and faculty-focused programs and resources for community and technical colleges that want to make the most of their professional development dollars. Since 1978, NISOD has aligned a wide array of benefits with the needs of its members, which explains why the American Association of Community Colleges named NISOD, “The country’s leading provider of professional development for community college faculty, staff, and administrators.” To learn more visit NISOD.

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