Dr. Harrison Keller is Commissioner of Higher Education and chief executive officer for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. He is a sixth-generation Texan with more than twenty-five years of experience in state budget and policy, university administration, fundraising, and building coalitions among higher education institutions, school districts, and policymakers to expand opportunity through education.
Dr. Keller’s appointment as the state's sixth Commissioner of Higher Education was effective October 1, 2019.
Among the major initiatives and innovations Dr. Keller has led at the Coordinating Board is working with higher education leaders, employers, and policymakers to develop the state’s current strategic plan for higher education, Building a Talent Strong Texas. With adoption of this plan in January 2022, Texas became the first state to condition its goals for awarding higher education credentials on the economic value of those credentials to students. Dr. Keller has also worked with the Governor, legislators, and higher education leaders to accelerate innovation and increase state support for student financial aid, transfer, workforce education, and research and development.
In July 2023, the national State Higher Education Executive Officers Association recognized the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board with the Exceptional Agency Award.
Dr. Keller is a recognized innovator in policy and programs to improve college readiness and student success, especially for low-income and first-generation students. He is the founder of the OnRamps dual enrollment initiative that provides college-level courses to tens of thousands of high school students across Texas each year. He also founded Texas OnCourse that supports thousands of college and career advisers across the state. In 2021, the Texas Legislature moved Texas OnCourse to the Coordinating Board, with an expanded charge to support college and career advising from middle school through adult learners.
Dr. Keller came to the Coordinating Board from The University of Texas at Austin, where he was Deputy to the President for Strategy and Policy and a Professor of Practice. At UT Austin, Dr. Keller also served as Vice Provost for Higher Education Policy and Research and Executive Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. Earlier in his career, Dr. Keller was a legislative aide in the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives, Director of Research for the Texas House, and Senior Education Advisor for the Speaker of the Texas House.
Dr. Keller has taught at Georgetown University, St. Edward’s University, and the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University. From 2005 to 2015, he served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve. He and his wife, Gena Nivens Keller, live in Austin with their three children.