Sue Gerber

Sue Gerber

2019-2020 SCUP Fellow and Associate Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness
William Paterson University

SCUP Coaches: Margaret Kasimatis, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, Saint Mary's College of California; Nicholas Santilli, Sr Director of Learning Strategy, SCUP

Read her research report

Watch her research presentation: The Relationship between Accreditation and Integrated Planning

SCUP Fellow Research Project

Project Title: The Relationship between Accreditation and Integrated Planning

NOTE: The project description below is taken from the SCUP Fellow’s original application proposal.

Project Description:
My project will examine the relationship between regional accreditation requirements and integrated planning. Higher education accreditation commissions emphasize the importance of planning within the accreditation process. I will focus on the expectations of commissions relative to integrated planning and the manner in which member institutions are making sense of requirements related to planning.

The project will center on three regional accreditors: Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). This will provide an opportunity to explore commonalities across regions as well as unique aspects of regions and accreditors. My study will address the opportunities and challenges the new standards present for coordinating planning activities at their institutions, and will illustrate integrated planning in action.

The project will involve:

  1. Review of Standards/Criteria including the extent to which planning is explicitly and implicitly
    referenced through the standards/criteria, the relationship among references, and the “story”
    this tells about (a) what planning is and (b) the role of planning in accreditation.
  2. Review of Artifacts from Member-Institutions and Accreditors including self-studies, quality
    assurance reports, team reports, and commission actions. The focus will be on the way in which institutions actualize the standards/criteria related to integrated planning and the feedback this engenders from the commissions.
  3. Interviews with Commission Vice Presidents to provide context for #1 and #2 above.
  4. Interviews with Member Institutions, with a focus on Accreditation Liaison Officers and
    Institutional Effectiveness staff. The interviews will address understanding of the nature of integrated planning with respect to accreditation and the way in which the institution is addressing it. Specific questions will be developed based on findings from #1 – #3 above.

Project Deliverables:
Deliverables for this project include the following:

  • Presentation of research at the SCUP conference in 2020
  • Project summary to be made available to SCUP members
  • If accepted, presentation at the MSCHE
  • If accepted, publication in a relevant higher education journal

What do you hope to learn from SCUP?
My admittedly self-interested hopes for learning fall into two categories – research skills and a deeper perspective on what integrated planning can look like “in action.”

Research Skills. It has been a long time since I have been a faculty member with an active research agenda. The nature of “research” that I conduct as an administrator is different and I am out of practice with the more focused research, I would like to conduct to address this issue. I hope that interaction with SCUP will help me return to the appropriate state of mind as well as learn/relearn specific skills.

Integrated Planning. I always return from SCUP conferences invigorated and eager to share with colleagues and to implement the principles I have learned. We start off strong, but then it seems we slip back into silos, old habits, etc. I know some of it is that change is an iterative process that takes time, but I also think some of it is me. That is, that I am not able to help guide us because I am missing something. I feel like I have a superficial understanding of the principles, but I have not made them mine, so to speak, in a way that I am able to help others. I hope that through working with SCUP, I will get a deeper understand and perspective-taking. Specifically, I hope to get assistance in crafting questions that will promote rich descriptions from research participants which illustrate integrated planning in action. I hope that the project artifacts may aid others who have experienced similar challenges to mine.

Learn more about the SCUP Fellows program.