The Educational Policy Institute


Dr. Swail is widely respected in the area of college opportunity research, Swail is the author of several books and peer-reviewed articles for international journals and magazines. Prior to establishing EPI, he served as the Founding Director of The Pell Institute in Washington, DC; Vice President of the Council for Opportunity in Education; Senior Policy Analyst with SRI International; and Associate Director for Policy Analysis with The College Board. He is a former middle school teacher in both Canada and the US and earned his doctorate from The George Washington University.

Some topics include:

  • How Schools and Colleges Can Plan for Student Success
  • Keeping Students in College: A Strategic Plan
  • The College Affordability Crisis
  • Fixing our Schools: Reforming our Reform Agenda
  • The Higher Education Arms Race: How Much is Enough?
  • Understanding the ROI of Higher Education
  • A Look at the Future Global Workforce
  • From Here to There: The History and Future of Higher Education

CONTACT US today at to learn more about how Dr. Swail can serve as your keynote presenter or facilitate a workshop for faculty, staff, or membership.


Dr. Watson Scott Swail

DR. WATSON SCOTT SWAIL is the Founding President and Senior Research Scientist of the Educational Policy Institute. Founded in 2002, EPI conducts research and policy studies on issues across the education spectrum, from early childhood reading to college preparation and access programs to postsecondary completion and workforce development. Dr. Swail also serves as a Principal in SwailLandis, a high-level consulting firm to institutions of higher education.

Dr. Swail has been involved in Education for the past 35 years as a middle school teacher, curriculum developer, teacher trainer, graduate school instructor, policy analyst, and program evaluator. He is noted for developing the Swail Geometric Framework for Student Retention, which provides a model for institutions of higher education to improve their service to students and increase graduation rates. The model is used at institutions around the world in their strategic planning.

He has conducted research for dozens of organizations, including the Lumina Foundation for Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the US Department of Education, and dozens of institutions of higher education and school districts across the US and Canada. He is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and professional development workshops on issues of educational opportunity, college access and affordability, and future issues in education. 

Dr. Swail is a prolific writer, with an occasional blog (The Swail Letter), and has published several books, including Stop Making Sense: A Collection of Thoughts and Other Random Musings on Education (January 2018), Educated Thoughts (2015), Finding Superman: Debating the Future of Public Education in America (2012), Retaining Minority Students in Higher Education (2003), and Memory, Reason, and Imagination: A Quarter Century of Pell Grants (1998). The ROI of Higher Education is expected out in 2018, as is Retention 101: Solutions for Student Success.

Dr. Swail earned his Doctor of Education from The George Washington University in Washington, DC, a Master of Science in Education from Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, VA, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, MB. He is a dual citizen of the US and Canada. He is an accomplished singer/songwriter, much less accomplished golfer, and an avid Winnipeg Jets and Washington Capitals fan(atic).


The Educational Policy Institute is a Virginia-based think tank and educational research center focused on issues related to educational opportunity.

The Educational Policy Institute

PO Box 6225, Virginia Beach, VA 23456