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Pittsburgh, Dec. 11, 2007 — Regent Square resident Michele Colvard, Ph.D., has joined La Roche College as associate vice president of academic affairs for assessment, arriving on campus in a new role that was created to help the College become more effective in gauging its own educational achievements. As more and more colleges and universities are held to more stringent accreditation standards, those institutions are becoming acutely aware of the need to play a role in their own academic destinies. La Roche is no different, and Colvard says she looks forward to working with colleagues to reach the same goals: academic excellence in a thriving educational environment.

Colvard most recently served as assistant to the provost at the University of Pittsburgh, focusing primarily on graduate programs there, including serving as the primary liaison for the National Research Council’s Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs at Pitt. Prior to her role there, she was the associate dean for academic affairs at Chatham University, Pittsburgh, where she was responsible for assessment, budgeting, commencements, first-year program, adjunct salaries, and major purchasing decisions for academic programs – among other duties.

At La Roche, she will use her knowledge of assessment programs and guidelines to help the College maintain accreditation with educational governing bodies through systematic cycles of review and improvement. She says she was attracted to the college because of its mission and because of its dedication to continued improvement in all areas, especially its educational offerings.

“Assessment gives people the opportunity to gauge their own educational achievements within colleges and universities,” she said. “We are able to ask ourselves, ‘Are students learning what we teach? Are we effective?’”

These are questions that Colvard began asking early in her career. As an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh, she earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and went on to earn her master’s and doctorate in the same subject at Binghamton University, Binghamton, N.Y., where she also earned a certificate in college teaching. In graduate school, she initiated an assessment program with her supervisor, seeing a natural link between anthropology and assessment. “I developed an interest in the cultures of educational institutions and how education was implemented. It seemed obvious to me.”

At La Roche, Colvard will put her assessment knowledge to work with the deans and members of the faculty, developing learning goals for all college programs. From there, she points out, it is a natural progression to assess those programs. Student input also will become part of the overall assessment program. Colvard will look at institutional assessment using a student satisfaction survey carried out during the fall semester and alumni satisfaction surveys to be completed in the future. Whatever the format, the goal with assessment is to make it part of a regular routine.

“Assessment can be intimidating for some people,” she said. “Yet one of the most important things about assessment is making it part of what you do every day, so it’s not a lot of extra work. The results, good or bad, provide an opportunity for continuous change or enhancement.”

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