• Master of Business Administration, University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business
  • Master of Public Policy, University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
  • Bachelor of Business Administration, University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business
Social Media:

James DeVaney

Associate Vice Provost for Academic InnovationFounding Executive Director, Center for Academic Innovation

Why I Choose to Work at Academic Innovation:

I grew up in a college town where creativity, excellence, impact, and equity often thrive. Inspired by the ways in which inclusive university communities fuel compassion and discovery, I went on to work with more than 60 universities around the world. Through this work it became clear that the social contract between institutions of higher education and the publics we serve is up for renewal. It also became clear that in order to unlock our collective potential, we must build perpetual and inclusive learning communities made up of learners that reflect the diversity of the world around us. I came to the University of Michigan to help build a nationwide network of academic innovation and to help a growing U-M community to challenge new frontiers in global, engaged, and lifelong learning. I believe the great public research university has a unique and vital role to play in shaping the future of higher education and creating a more compassionate and equitable world.”

Current Roles/Previous Experience:

James DeVaney is a longtime advocate for the transformative power of design and innovation in higher education. He currently serves as the Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation at the University of Michigan. He is also the Founding Executive Director for the Center for Academic Innovation. In this capacity, he works at the intersection of strategy, design, policy, and technology on a variety of University-wide programs and initiatives.

James works with faculty, administrators, students, and alumni to extend U-M’s academic excellence, expand the institution’s public purpose, and foster equity and inclusivity in higher education. He also works on a range of multi-institutional initiatives to help build a nationwide network of academic innovation.

James is a frequent speaker and is a member of the Advisory Committee of the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), the Coursera Council, the edX Policy Committee, and the IMS Global Executive Strategic Council. On occasion, James consults for other universities, educational organizations, and governments on digital strategy, global engagement, policy and organizational design.

Prior to his role at U-M, James served as a senior director at Huron Consulting Group where he co-founded the firm’s global education and digital education practices. Previously, he lived in the United Arab Emirates where he established the firm’s presence in the MENA region. James has worked with and provided strategic counsel to more than 60 universities in more than 15 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, Australia and North America. In addition to world-class research universities, James has advised startup colleges and universities, new educational ventures, international branch campuses, government agencies, national libraries, museums, think-tanks, social enterprise organizations, and K-12 focused nonprofits.

Ask me to learn about:
  • Higher Education Strategy
  • Higher Education Innovation
  • Future of Work and Economic Opportunity
Recent Stories by James:
Nikhil Sinha

Innovation Perspectives: A Conversation with Nikhil Sinha of GSVlabs

Blog Post

James DeVaney explores the contours of the global innovation economy, new possibilities with XR, and more in this Q&A with Nikhil Sinha, Chief Executive Officer of GSV Labs.

Innovation Perspectives: A Conversation with Pauline Cohen Vorms of the Holberton School

Blog Post

A Q&A with Pauline Cohen Vorms, Director of Business Development and Partnerships at the Holberton School, a new school founded in San Francisco in 2016 to give students practical experience through a Full-Stack engineering program.

A blue gradient in front of a young man wearing a virtual reality headset reaching out with his left hand, index finger extended, while standing in front of a large monitor displaying 3D-generated boxes. This image includes a lower-third reading

World Building: Launching a new Extended Reality (XR) Initiative at the University of Michigan

Blog Post

A look ahead at emerging opportunities in design, educational research, and technology to shape the future of learning with a new campus-wide Extended Reality (XR) Initiative.

The Center for Academic Innovation logo in front of a tinted aerial photo of a group of individuals in a field with a lower-third reading

Expanding the Academic Innovation Network

Blog Post

James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Founding Executive Director of the Center for Academic Innovation, looks ahead to a new academic year and new opportunities to engage the higher education community in research, innovation, experimentation, and iteration.

Engaging Learners in Educational Product Development for Michigan Online

Blog Post

James DeVaney sits down with Syed Amaanullah, Senior Product Manager, and Vishal Chandawarkar, Product Management Fellow and current MBA student in the Ross School of Business, to demystify product management in an educational context.

Are We Ready to Move Beyond Translations? Making a Multilingual Destination for Learning and Problem Solving

Blog Post

James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation, describes our efforts to lower barriers to high-quality education from the University of Michigan through language translations in massive open online courses.