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University of Phoenix Leadership Joins Proceedings of 2024 PESC-A4L Spring Summit

Marc Booker, Ph.D., Hillary Halpern, M.B.A. and Monterey Sims, M.B.A. join the event focused on the intersection of education and technology

University of Phoenix is pleased to share that Vice Provost of Strategy, Marc Booker, Ph.D., Senior Director of Program Deployment; Hillary Halpern, M.B.A.; and Director, Admissions & Evaluation, Monterey Sims, joined the proceedings of the 2024 Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)-A4L Spring Summit, held April 30 – May 2, 2024, in Arlington, Virginia. The PESC-A4L Summit is an innovative event dedicated to advancing lifelong learning through the exploration of open data standards and privacy. This unique conference brings together experts, thought leaders, and enthusiasts to delve into the intersection of technology, data, and privacy in the education sector.

"The PESC Summit provides a valuable opportunity to examine the evolving landscape of higher education credentials, particularly the relationship between how different credentialing models can improve student and employer value propositions,” Booker shared. “As the education sector undergoes significant transformations, we must not only embrace innovation but also reevaluate the structures supporting how we convey learning and skills. I’m proud to share the work we are doing at University of Phoenix, where we are leading the charge towards a more robust way to share learners’ achievements and making more concise connections with employers.”

Dr. Booker was a panelist for the keynote session titled “Credentials across Lifelong Learning,” which examined the role of credentials, certifications, and competency-based-learning in higher education. Booker also co-led a session on AI in the classroom, tilted “Maximizing Impact, Minimizing Risks: Fostering Responsible Use of AI in Education.” The session on AI explored actionable steps and key takeaways to foster responsible use of AI in education to create a more equitable, effective, and privacy-protective learning environment for all students.

Halpern presented a session titled “Skills - Linking Education and Career,” which shared the ways University of Phoenix leverages labor market data, like SOC Codes, job titles and skills, in the development of academic programs. The discussion also highlighted how the University integrates career relevant skills and micro-credentials in courses and outcomes.

“University of Phoenix has long understood the importance of skills-based hiring and has responded by aligning our curriculum with the demands of the workforce,” shares Halpern. “I’m honored to present our findings and share the research-backed methods that have helped our institution bridge the skills gap for both students and employers.”

Sims, who served on the event program committee also attended the event. She represents University of Phoenix in her role as the vice-chair of the PESC Board of Directors, further underscoring the University’s commitment to shaping the future of education standards and practices.

"We are honored to once again participate in the PESC Spring 2024 Conference and engage with fellow educators, policymakers, and industry experts," shares Sims. "Our sessions on credentialling, skills and AI provoked meaningful discussions and are an extension of our commitment to innovation and driving positive change in higher education.”

As Vice Provost for Strategy at the University of Phoenix, Dr. Booker oversees critical path academic initiatives to improve the student experience such as learning platform implementations, curricular enhancements, and developing empathetic solutions to drive improved student outcomes through data. Booker’s work in higher education has been recognized by several associations as he was the 2024 recipient of UPCEA’s Business and Operations award for operational excellence, was honored with a 2024 Thomas A. Bilger award for his service from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), and in 2020 Booker received a Hall of Fame recognition from Blackboard for his contributions in providing thought leadership and innovation in education.

Halpern has been with University of Phoenix for 16 years and currently serves as the Senior Director of Program Deployment, where she has leveraged her in-depth insights from her student support and process improvement background to develop, improve, and maintain the University Program Lifecycle (UPL) process. Recognized as "Rookie of the Year" examiner award in 2017 from Southwest Alliance of Excellence (SWAE), she has served as a lead examiner for the SWAE and as a speaker on process improvement at regional and national conferences. Halpern has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Arizona State University, and a Master of Business Administration and Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management from University of Phoenix. She recently co-authored a University of Phoenix white paper on establishing a skills ecosystem at a career-focused higher education institution.

Sims serves as a Director of Admissions and Evaluation at the University of Phoenix. During her 30-year career at the University she has participated in a variety of process improvement initiatives including implementation of Electronic Transcript Exchange (ETX) and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Sims is directly responsible for the Office of Admissions Document Processing division which includes overseeing the acquisition and processing of admission documents and transcripts from prior attended institutions for University applicants. She also serves on the AACRAO Standardization of Postsecondary Education Record Electronic Data Exchange (SPEEDE) Committee and the eTrans California Steering Committee.

Learn more here about PESC.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit


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