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Equity. Access. Excellence.

Martha Ellis PhotoPhone: 512.232.2261

Dana Center Role

Martha spearheads the Dana Center’s strategic planning for the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways, a transformative redesign to modernize entry-level college mathematics programs through working with states,  systems, universities, and colleges. The DCMP continues to enjoy unprecedented growth and rises to the challenge of meeting the increasing demands across the nation.

As a collaborative effort to increase student success rates, the DCMP involves the efforts of many across all levels of the system. The initiative is ambitious and requires long-term commitment to continuous improvement in pursuit of an excellent and equitable mathematics education for all students. Martha’s experience as a former university associate vice chancellor, college president and leadership coach for Achieving the Dream is serving the Center well in leading this work.

In this role, Martha works with external and internal stakeholders to advance the project’s mission and vision and establishes and sustains collaboration with higher education, governmental, and philanthropic partners. She ensures student success across the educational ecosystem with seamless transfer and applicability. Martha facilitates conversations with institutional and system leaders to scale mathematics pathways to student credential attainment leading to viable careers. 

Martha teaches doctoral courses in higher education leadership at UT Austin.

Before Joining the Dana Center

Martha came to the Dana Center from the Roueche Graduate Center at the National American University, where she was vice president/dean of graduate faculty and professor. She provided leadership for graduate faculty in course development, professional development, teaching, and dissertation committee assignments. In addition, Martha taught doctoral courses, oversaw practicums, and chaired dissertation committees in the Community College Leadership program.

Before joining National American University, Martha was associate vice chancellor for community college partnerships, leadership development, and online learning for the University of Texas System, providing leadership for academic affairs issues for 9 universities and 225,000 students. In this role, she addressed state policy issues negatively impacting seamless transfer for students and institutions of higher education and developed and implemented new models for student completion and leadership development.  

Martha has also served as president of Lee College (Baytown, Texas) and Texas State Technical College (Waco). She has been a faculty member at two- and four-year institutions for more than 25 years.


Ph.D., Higher Education Administration and Research, University of North Texas

M.S., Developmental Cognitive Psychology, University of Texas at Dallas

B.A., Religion and Music, American Christian College

Selected Recent Appointments, Panels, and Advisory Boards 

Core partner, Solution Network for Strong Start to Finish, Education Commission of the States, 2019–present

Member, AACC Pathways Collaborative, American Association of Community Colleges, 2017–present

Site evaluator, Aspen Prize for Excellence, Aspen College Excellence, 2018–present

Member, Advisory Committee, Texas Student Success Council, 2012–present

Resident faculty, Board of Trustees Institute, Texas Success Center, 2016–present

Guided pathways coach, Texas Pathways Project, Texas Student Success Center, 2016–present

Leadership coach, Achieving the Dream, 2009–present

Selected Publications

Ellis, M. M., & Garcia, L. (2017). Generation X presidents leading community colleges: New challenges, new leaders. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Ellis, M. (2016, April 27). Reimagining college rankings: What information do students truly need? The EvoLLLution: A Destiny Solutions Illumination. Retrieved from

Ellis, M. (2015, May 5). Greater student understanding central to overcoming challenges facing graduate education. The EvoLLLution: A Destiny Solutions Illumination. Retrieved from

Selected Presentations

Math pathways and the workforce: Nursing and manufacturing. Presented at the League for Innovation in the Community College’s Innovations Conference, New York, NY (February 2019).

Texas faculty leading major community college reform. Presented at Texas Community College Teachers Association annual convention, Houston, TX (February 2019).

Aligning math pathways with guided pathways. Presented at DREAM 2019, Long Beach, CA (February 2019).

Successful implementation of math pathways and guided pathways. Presented at the Board of Trustees Institute, Horseshoe Bay, TX (February 2019).

Math pathways to promote students success. Presented at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Texas Statewide Policy Institute on Higher Education, San Antonio, TX (January 2019).

The value of higher education. Presented to the Independent Colleges and Universities president’s annual convention, Houston, TX (September 2018).

Ensuring students are learning: The president’s role. Presented at the Aspen Presidential Fellows Institute, San Jose, CA (July 2018).