Holding Academic Leadership Accountable
By Connie Johnson, Ed.D., Chief Academic Officer
Academic accountability is a hot topic in higher education today. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the ACE (American Council on Education) Chief Academic Officer workshop in St. Louis, Mo. and the Higher Learning Commission’s training for peer evaluators in St. Charles, Ill. The attendance for each included academic administrators and faculty from institutions around the country ranging from traditional four-year universities to community colleges and private institutions. A clear theme resonated out of the presentations I attended and conversations I participated in; higher education is in a state of transition. Leading this transition is the call for accountability of all in higher education.
As academic leaders, we need to answer a number of important questions that impact our students:
1) Are students meeting the objectives set forth in their program?
2) Are students learning in their courses?
3) Do the courses have enough content to warrant the credit ascribed to the course?
4) How does each college and university keep record of all of the above?
As the leader of Colorado Technical University (CTU) academics and student affairs, I think about these questions frequently and with a profound sense of responsibility. As an institution, we are proud of our long history (since the 1960s) of academic excellence and innovation in the classroom. We rely upon student feedback, attendance and graduation to define our metrics for success. Traditional universities who are dependent upon legislative funding bear the burden of addressing student feedback amidst shrinking budgets. During the ACE and HLC workshops, the overriding sentiment was that faculty and administrators will overcome these challenges and adapt to the changing landscape because of their pure love for academia and passion for student learning.
As a private university, CTU is not dependent upon legislative funding but our accountability to students and the community is no less. As we move forward in 2013, academics and student affairs will place a higher focus on quality in the classroom and service to our students. I’m excited to work with an incredible group of talented academic leaders within the university who are able to embrace this transitional period in education. What is striking to me from conversations with colleagues across the country is that higher education as a whole is transforming. It is vital that our university is represented and participate during this critical period of change.
Photo credit: Dr. Connie Johnson, CAO and Provost, with attendees at the American Council on Education CAO conference in St. Louis, Mo.
Connie Johnson, Ed.D., is the Chief Academic Officer/Provost working with both online and ground degree programs. Dr. Johnson is the leader of CTU Academics and Student Affairs and brings over 20 years of experience in academics. Connect with Dr. Johnson on Twitter @DrConnieJohnson.