The Aldrich Interdisciplinary Lecture

The Road Ahead for Higher Education
(and the Lure of Academic Off-Roading)

Ken Steele, Co-founder and Senior Vice-President of Academica Group, Inc.

SGS is proud to present Ken Steele as the guest lecturer for the 2011 Aldrich Interdiscplinary Lecture. The topic of Mr. Steele's lecture will be "The Road Ahead for Higher Education (and the Lure of Academic Off-Roading)."

Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Time: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. (reception to follow)

Location: IIC-2001, Inco Innovation Centre, Memorial University

RSVP: By March 22, 2011 via Facebook Event Page

Free parking available in Area 15B.


The road ahead for Canadian academics and their universities will include many twists and turns arising from shifting demographics and evolving student goals and expectations, potholes left by inadequate government funding, and traffic jams of adjuncts seeking the road to tenure – while in the fast lane, accelerating technological change may completely transform the nature of the academic enterprise.

Ken Steele, a consultant in institutional strategy and editor of Canada’s leading higher education news daily, will provide a roadmap to help navigate the academic mainstream over the next two decades, based on a wide-ranging synthesis of research, forecasts, news and emerging trends. He’ll also share some personal insights into the thrills and spills of career opportunities off the beaten academic path.


In the 1980s, Ken Steele set out on a traditional academic journey by completing an Honours BA in English Language and Literature at the University of Western Ontario, an MA in Medieval and Renaissance Literature at the University of Toronto, and all coursework and examinations toward a doctorate in Shakespearean drama. Over his decade-long academic career, Ken received 30 graduate and undergraduate scholarships, taught four years of undergraduate English, edited almost 100 electronic quarto and folio playtexts, wrote a dozen articles and papers for scholarly journals and conferences, and founded SHAKSPER, the first online discussion community for Shakespearean scholars. His thesis, however, spun its wheels at the side of the road.

In the 1990s, Ken took a sharp detour from academia to work in marketing communications, eventually founding his own award-winning advertising agency. In 2005, he co-founded Academica Group, now Canada’s largest market research and marketing consultancy for higher education, with offices in London, Toronto, and Boston. Ken heads up Academica’s consulting unit, providing guidance in branding, recruitment, and institutional strategy to colleges and universities across Canada. Since 2008, Ken has delivered or facilitated more than 100 conference keynotes, campus presentations, board retreats and strategic planning sessions.

Ken works closely with Academica’s market research group, which conducts the most
comprehensive consumer studies of post-secondary students and applicants in North America, on behalf of hundreds of institutions and many government agencies. He also stays abreast of technological developments and online strategies thanks to Academica’s web technology team. Ironically, Ken is now best known for a diversion he began in his spare time, editing a daily digest of Canadian higher education news he called “Academica's Top Ten.” Over the past five years, more than 10,000 subscribers have come to depend on the morning Top Ten to provide a concise summary of the busy higher ed landscape, and thought-provoking evidence of emerging trends in recruitment, marketing, and the business of academe.

About the Lecture:

The Aldrich Interdisciplinary Lecture, named for Memorial’s first Dean of Graduate Studies, Dr. Fred Aldrich, typically addresses issues that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries and are relevant to graduate students.

Each year, the School of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Students' Union (GSU) coordinate an interdisciplinary conference for graduate students and a keynote address in memory of Dr. Frederick A Aldrich (Dean of Graduate Studies, 1970-87).

For more information on the Aldrich Interdisciplinary Lecture, please email

Previous Aldrich Lectures


School of Graduate Studies

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