Aims McGuinness is a Senior Fellow with NCHEMS. He specializes in governance and state coordination of higher education; the history, functions, and current issues facing public university systems; and international comparison of education reform.
Prior to joining NCHEMS in 1993, he was director of higher education policy at the Education Commission of the States (ECS). Before joining ECS in 1975, was executive assistant (chief of staff) to the Chancellor of the University of Maine System.
Over the past forty years, Aims has advised most of the states that have conducted major studies of their higher education systems and undertaken higher education reforms. Among his major projects were serving, along with NCHEMS colleagues, as consultant in the development of the landmark 1997 Kentucky Postsecondary Education Reform Act, and in the establishment of new community and technical college systems in Kentucky and Louisiana. Over the years, he has worked in all the 50 states with state governments and university systems on projects related to strategic planning, governance reform and other issues.
Aims is the author of several publications on state higher education policy, university systems and governance. He initiated the State Postsecondary Education Structures Sourcebook, a basic reference guide to state coordination and governance in the United States. Recent publications include, “History and Evolution of Higher Education Systems in the United States” and “Serving Public Purposes: Challenges for Systems in Changing State Context,” Higher Education Systems 3.0, Lane, J. and Johnstone, B., editors, SUNY Press, 2013; State Policy Leadership for The Future: History of State Coordination And Governance and Alternatives for the Future: Education Commission of the States, 2016; and “State Higher Education Structures and Institutional Accreditation: Background Information for Consideration of Alternatives for the Future,” paper prepared for Council on Higher Education Accreditation project on higher education systems and accreditation, 2021.
At the international level Aims conducted policy reviews and advised governments on education policy, primarily through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank, including policy reviews and projects in Australia, the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Greece, India, Israel, Ireland, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Malaysia, the Russian Federation, and Turkey. Among his assignments were serving on the International Strategic Experts Group to the Russian Ministry of Education on implementation of the Concept for Modernization of Russian Education, 2002-2004, and chairing the international task force leading to the 2011 OECD report, Strong Performers and Successful Reforms: Education Policy Advice to Greece, making recommendations to the Government of Greece on reforms in primary, secondary and higher education.