Photo from Pacific's 2012 commencement ceremony

Have you ever wondered how well your unit is meeting the needs of the Pacific community or how well our students are prepared for life after graduation? The Institutional Effectiveness function was established in the Provost's Office to answer these questions.

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Pacific Launches Institutional Effectiveness Process

University Will Collect Data to Better Analyze Programs and Services and Find Ways to Better Serve Students
Oct 11, 2012

Have you ever wondered how well your unit is meeting the needs of the Pacific community or how well our students are prepared for life after graduation?  The Institutional Effectiveness function was established in the Provost's Office to answer these questions.

To direct this task, Pacific hired its first executive director of Institutional Effectiveness - Dave Hemenway -  in July 2012. Hemenway has more than 30 years of assessment, institutional research, planning and management experience in a variety of educational, business, and political environments.  During his career, he specialized in turning data into useful information to facilitate decision making. These efforts have significantly improved programs and services. His educational experiences have been at both college and university campuses in addition to serving on the system office of a large community college (Montgomery College in Maryland) and on the staff of the Connecticut State University Chancellor's office.

"A primary goal of this process is to produce annual reports that give the University a much clearer idea of the role of each unit or program in the achievement of the University's strategic initiatives," said Provost Maria Pallavicini. "These reports will assist the deans, cabinet members and managers on what areas are successful and what might need further attention."

Institutional Effectiveness is charged with assuring continuing improvement across all Pacific programs and services using the tools of institutional research and effectiveness, regardless if the program is in the academic, student support or administrative side. Program reviews and annual reports will be distributed and made publicly available within the University community. The reports will use data sets that will be comparable from program to program, thus giving an "apples to apples" view of all departments.

 In collaboration with the deans and directors of academic and administrative units, the Institutional Effectiveness office will design, implement, and maintain appropriate accountability structures to support institutional excellence and the maintenance of appropriate accreditations, both University-wide and program by program.

 This fall, the Institutional Effectiveness Committee (IEC) refined its program review strategy. The IEC stated its values as:

  • The goal of Program Review is to improve programs, which means improving student success and experience within these programs.
  • Program Review should be an efficient, simple, and timely process.
  • Program Review should be a transparent process, and communication and documents should be electronic and readily available.
  • Effective Program Review is best driven by pertinent evidence. We recognize that this is only enabled by easy, open access to (and support in using) institutional and program specific data supplied by the University. 
  • Effective Program Review is flexible; it respects the expertise of people in their fields and relies on them to make informed assessments about improving their programs. 
  • The success of any program is enabled by effective, efficient and effortless administrative processes supporting it.
  • Program Review is a collaborative process. We value the feedback of the units engaged in Program Review, and aim to adapt our processes in response to this feedback.

Institutional Effectiveness has worked with Mike Rogers, director of Institutional Research, and his team to produce a template of program specific information that will support program review.  These templates have been shared with academic programs that are currently working on their program reviews.

"It is wonderful to have data about each of our programs in a consistent, reliable form," said Lynn Beck, dean of the Benerd School of Education. "This information will most definitely help us analyze what's working and what needs to be improved.  The data will also help us track the impact of changes we make so that we can be certain that we're moving in directions that are best for our students and the University"

Institutional Effectiveness will coordinate a comprehensive system of program reviews of all academic, administrative and student support units. These program reviews will allow units and academic departments to reflect upon what has worked well in their area and what can be improved. Each program/unit will produce an action plan that is reviewed and approved by their dean and/or vice president.  These action plans will be reviewed by the President's Cabinet who will develop a strategy to solve any interdepartmental challenges that may exist. 

This new program review strategy is designed to meet Pacific's program review goals which are to improve student success and program quality.

"The History Department is currently conducting a program review using the newly designed Institutional Research data template and it is provoking interesting questions and lines of inquiry for us," said Edie Sparks, Associate Professor of History.  "I think that the data, in conjunction with our internal assessment processes, will help our investigation of how to improve as a program."

While he's only been here two months, Hemenway is optimistic that Pacific's Institutional Effectiveness efforts will significantly improve student success and reduce costs. He feels strongly that developing a culture of evidence allows people to take more risks and evaluate how well these efforts are working.

 "I am so encouraged by the dedication and commitment of the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, which includes Beth McManis, Cindy Lyon, Cynthia Eakin, David Chase, Edie Sparks, Eileen McFall, Eric Sonstroem, Kenneth Mullen, and Stephanie Thompson," Hemenway said. "I have never worked with a better group of colleagues who are committed to improving our university through program review. It is my pleasure to work with these professionals."

For more information, contact Hemenway at