Dr. Koch is a child of immigrants who came to the United States in pursuit of a better life for their family. His first language was not English, and postsecondary education was valued by his family as a means for realizing the American Dream. He is a staunch advocate and leader of efforts that increase student access to and, ultimately, completion of postsecondary education. He has worked in and with higher education institutions for over twenty-five years – the last ten with the Gardner Institute where he is the President and Chief Operating Officer.
Dr. Koch has substantive experience with undergraduate education administration, redesign of unjust education systems, strategic planning, fund raising, reaffirmation of accreditation, postsecondary access and success, and enrollment management efforts. His work includes extensive grant writing and fund raising with support coming from sources such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Coca Cola, ECMC Foundation, GEAR UP, Kresge Foundation, Lilly Endowment, Inc., Lumina Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and Target Corporation.
Dr. Koch holds a baccalaureate degree in history and German from the University of Richmond, a master’s degree in history from the University of Richmond, a master’s degree in higher education from the University of South Carolina, and a Ph.D. from Purdue University in American Studies. He was an American Council on Education Fellow in 2013-14.
Dr. Koch’s scholarly and professional interests are focused on student success and the ways in which colleges and universities both reflect and shape democracy and culture in the United States. Through this work, he serves as a passionate advocate for historically underrepresented and underserved students – seeing higher education as a vehicle for advancing equity and social justice. He is the author of an array of publications such as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions of The First-Year Experience in American Higher Education: An Annotated Bibliography as well as Improving Teaching, Learning, Equity, and Success in Gateway Courses: New Directions for Higher Education, Number 180.
Koch has served on several boards and commissions including: the Indiana College Access and Success Network; the Directorate Board for the American College Personnel Association Commission on Admissions, Orientation, and the First-Year Experience; the Military Family Research Institute; the Higher Learning Commission’s Think Tank on Persistence and Completion; the Higher Learning Commission’s Defining Student Success Task Force; the advisory committee for the Association of American Colleges and Universities Strengthening Guided Pathways and Career Success by Ensuring Students are Learning project; the National Advisory Board for the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition; and the editorial review board of the Journal of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.
Dr. Koch lives with his wife, Dr. Sara Stein Koch, and their six children in Mills River, North Carolina. In their spare time, he and his wife enjoy hiking with their children; attending their children’s track, soccer and lacrosse events; gardening; and reading.