Paul Lingenfelter began his unusually broad and diversified career at the University of Michigan from 1968 to 1974 where he directed the business and counseling functions of large residence halls and for two years staffed university committees awarding faculty research grants and examining the role of the dissertation in graduate education for the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. At the Illinois Board of Higher Education from 1974 to 1985 he played a central role in developing the state’s funding model for community colleges, in developing planning and budgeting systems and cost studies for public colleges and universities, and in developing and implementing state budgets and policies for all sectors of higher education, public and private. From 1980 to 1985 he was Deputy Director for Fiscal Affairs for the Board of Higher Education.
At the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation from 1985 to 2000 he initially served as Director of Program Evaluation, organizing and implementing reviews of all the Foundation’s diversified programs, ranging from research on mental health and human development to world environment and resources. In addition he established and supervised the MacArthur Foundation’s portfolio of program related investments from 1987 to 2000. From 1994 to 1996 as Associate Vice President for Planning and Evaluation he played a central role in strategic planning leading to the foundation’s reorganization. In 1996 he became the founding Vice President of the Program on Human and Community Development, which supported research and practice in economics, mental health and human development, education, and community development.
From 2000 to 2013 Lingenfelter served as CEO/President of the association of State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO). Under his leadership, the SHEEO staff organized the National Commission on Accountability in Higher Education in 2005, created the annual study State Higher Education Finance, and completed numerous policy studies and projects to assess and improve the contributions and cost effectiveness of higher education. He also led SHEEO in building stronger relationships between K-12 and higher education, in improving state and national data systems, in assessing student learning, and in proposing and advocating public policies to increase educational attainment.
Lingenfelter has served as a member of the Commission on Standards for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), on the 21st Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, as a board member of the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, and on numerous advisory panels. He currently chairs the board of the National Student Clearinghouse and the board of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, which seeks to reduce regulatory barriers and improve consumer protection in distance education. He has been a frequent participant in international meetings on higher education issues including governance, budgeting, quality assurance, and the assessment of student learning, and he has been widely published and a frequent speaker and consultant on issues in higher education and philanthropy.