Dear Colleagues:

Assessment is a necessary and useful process in the day-to-day life of the University, and needs to be carried out regularly. While assessment is required for our accreditation by the Middle States Association Commission and by professional accrediting bodies, its most central use is to help us make sure we are meeting our mission and our objectives. We need to practice good assessment systematically in all parts of the University, both in academic departments, programs, and colleges, and in operational units.

The assessment process consists, in effect, of three basic steps: set our goals and desired outcomes; measure to see how well we are meeting those goals and outcomes; and, continuously use the data obtained through assessment to improve what we are doing and how.

Expertise on assessment resides in many parts of the University. Within the shared governance system, we have a Committee on Assessment, which is a sub-committee of the Committee on Instruction. The Committee on Assessment will concentrate on matters related to assessment in academic departments and programs. Our Office of Institutional Research is instrumental in consulting on and supporting assessment. Assistant Provost Kevork Horissian is the Provost's Office representative to the Committee on Assessment. He and our Assessment Coordinator Agnes Jasinska will support and assist all campus departments (academic as well as student support services) in the development of assessment plans and reports, including providing University and unit-level data, designing surveys and studies, and analyzing data. As a starting point, the Assessment web page contains a collection of resources on assessment, including a showcase of best practices.

Whether we assess student learning or our operational effectiveness, two guiding principles for good assessment are that it be useful and meaningful, and that it be sustainable over time. This web page contains resources that demonstrate best practices, give examples, and showcase successful models. We already do excellent, meaningful assessment in many fields. We will keep building on that good work to extend it to all areas of our academic endeavors, as well as elsewhere on campus.

Robert Midkiff, Interim Provost