To explore, develop, and test alternative approaches of quality assurance that respond to the changing landscape of higher and postsecondary education and will serve the needs of learners, employers, and the larger society.
Here’s what we’ve accomplished so far—and there’s more to come in the future.
Convened national leaders (funded by a USA Funds—now Strada—grant). Unanimously decide that new models focusing on career readiness are vital.
Research begins on bridging the gap between Higher Ed and the workplace. Awarded a Lumina Foundation grant.
Form Stakeholder Advisory Committee with employers and provosts in KY to link employer needs with certification process. Build new prototypes & launch Faculty Fellows programs.
The QA Commons Staff, our NCHEMS partners, and our robust Advisory Board and Stakeholder Advisory Board members comprise our entire team.
“For the rapidly changing jobs of today and tomorrow, “soft skills” are no longer just something to pick up “somewhere.” Technology, offshoring, and roboticization are but a few of the challenges graduates will face, and skills such as collaboration, adaptability, and continuous learning have become essential for ongoing employability. We need to integrate essential employability qualities with academic content and theory to prepare graduates for meaningful careers. That’s why we created The Quality Assurance Commons.”
— Ralph Wolff
President & Founder
Ralph Wolff is the Founder and President of The Quality Assurance Commons, and an independent policy consultant focusing on accreditation and quality assurance processes in the US and internationally.
He previously served as the president of the WASC Senior College and University Commission from 1996 through August 2013, and as Associate Executive Director since 1981. He is a member of the University Quality Assurance International Board (UQAIB) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and on the National Advisory Boards of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) and for the Lumina Foundation on the Degree Qualifications Profile. He also is a member of the Board of Trustees of the United States International University Africa, located in Nairobi, Kenya and Palo Alto University. He has published multiple articles and book chapters on accreditation, quality assurance, distance education, and the changing role of the library. Current projects include a research study of quality assurance standards for international branch campuses from the perspectives of the sending and receiving countries, and developing a new registry for better understanding of the meaning and standards for degree, certificates, badges, etc
Before joining the staff of WASC, Mr. Wolff was one of the founders of the Antioch School of Law in Washington DC, which now continues to operate as the David A. Clarke Law School at the University of the District of Columbia. The law school was the first ever designed to prepare lawyers to serve in public interest and poverty law settings. He later became dean of the Antioch Graduate School of Education, heading five programs in seven states. He also served as Associate Provost, setting up internal quality assurance processes for the geographically dispersed college. In 1976, he was appointed a law professor at the University of Dayton.
A graduate of Tufts University, Mr. Wolff received his JD with honors from the National Law Center at George Washington University. He continues to be a member of the Washington, DC bar.
For his service in support of quality assurance and improvement in the WASC region and nationally he was awarded in 2008 the Virginia B. Smith Award for Innovation in Higher education and, in 2013, an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Loma Linda University.
Senior Advisor, The QA Commons; President Emeritus, NCHEMS
Peter T. Ewell is President Emeritus of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS). A member of the staff since 1981, Dr. Ewell’s work focuses on assessing institutional and higher education system effectiveness and the outcomes of college, and involves both research and direct consulting with institutions and state systems on collecting and using assessment information in planning, evaluation, and budgeting.
He has directed many projects on this topic, including initiatives funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the National Institute for Education, the Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education, the Lumina Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.
He has consulted with over 425 colleges and universities and 24 state systems of higher education on topics related to performance indicators and the assessment of student learning.
His international consulting on quality assurance includes work in the U.K., Chile, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Dubai, and with the OECD.
Dr. Ewell has authored or co-authored eight books and numerous articles on the topic of improving undergraduate instruction through the assessment of student outcomes. In addition, he has prepared commissioned papers for many state agencies and national organizations.
A graduate of Haverford College, Dr. Ewell received his PhD in Political Science from Yale University in 1976 and was on the faculty of the University of Chicago.
Before joining NCHEMS as its President, Sally M. Johnstone served as a vice president at the Western Governors University, a provost at a public comprehensive university, as the founding director of WCET at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), an assistant dean, and as a faculty member.
She also serves as the executive director of the Foundation for Student Success, a commissioner on the US United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Commission, and on the editorial boards for Change magazine (USA) and the Journal of Open Learning (UK). She is the founding editor of the new Journal of Competency-Based Education.
Dr. Johnstone has written dozens of articles, books, and reports on issues of integrating effective new practices into academics. She has managed workshops, served on study groups, and given speeches throughout North America, Europe, and the Pacific Rim.
Dr. Johnstone earned her baccalaureate and master’s degrees from Virginia Tech, and her PhD in experimental psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Director, Operations & Planning
Michelle comes to the QA Commons with breadth of experience in both the non-profit and corporate realms. Before joining the QA Commons, she served as Director of Organizational Strategy at the RP Group, a research-based organization focused on student success and equity in the California Community Colleges. Prior to her work in the field of higher education, she served as Managing Director at Atlas Capital Advisors, as a Senior Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch, and as an Account Manager at Oracle Corporation. Ms. Deasy has served on the boards of the Mural Music and Arts Project, the Presidio YMCA, the South End Rowing Club, and the Cornell Track Association. She spent several years competing internationally as a professional triathlete.
Ms. Deasy earned a BS in Development Sociology from Cornell University and an MA in Demography from UC Berkeley.
Laleh has worked in both the financial services industry and the non-profit sector. She has held positions in wealth management, private client services, investment consulting, and branch management at Wells Fargo, Citibank, and California Bank & Trust. Laleh also has extensive experience working for a non-profit. She was the Director of Fundraising for Silicon Valley based Pars Equality Center and enjoyed utilizing her sales and management skills to implement and grow fundraising initiatives.
Laleh Kazemi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Finance and Organizational Management from St. Mary’s College of California.
William M. Plater is currently Research Director for Civic Learning and Community Engagement for the Global Common Good at Laureate Education, Inc., a global network of more than 70 campus-based and online universities in 25 countries. He also serves as Senior Scholar at The QA Commons.
He served as the chief academic officer at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) for 19 years (1987-2006), Director of the Office of International and Community Development (2006-10), and retired as Indiana University Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs, Philanthropic Studies, and English in 2010.
Earlier, he served as Dean of Liberal Arts at IUPUI (1983-87), Associate Director of the School of Humanities (1977-83 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and as Director of Unit One, a residential living-learning program he helped create in 1971, also at UIUC.
Plater attended the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign from 1963 to 1973, earning a baccalaureate (1967), master’s (1969), and PhD (1973), all in English literature.
He is a recipient of various awards from the Chancellor’s Medallion, Morris T. Keaton Award, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Development Administration, Spirit of Philanthropy Award John W. Ryan Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Programs, Gerald L. Bepko Medallion for Leadership, Mayor’s Community Service Award, and the Gerald L. Bepko Award for Administrative Achievement.
Gregory Rush is a Senior Fellow at the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, and currently serves as the Project Director for the Kentucky EEQ Certification Initiative.
Before joining the Council, he was the Special Assistant to the President for Fiscal Accountability for Kentucky State University. He also served as the Vice President for Business Affairs/Chief Financial Officer for Kentucky State University from 2015 to 2017.
Gregory has served in a number of roles in government and education over the past 30 years. He has worked at the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, where he was first legislative fiscal analyst and later promoted to deputy director and budget director for the Kentucky General Assembly.
Prior roles include:
· Associate commissioner at the Kentucky Department of Education
· Staff assistant at the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
· Auxiliary business services director at Arizona State University
· Fiscal branch manager at Kentucky Department of Corrections
· Finance director at Anderson County Schools
· Policy analyst at the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet
· Policy and budget analyst at the Governor’s Office for policy and management
Gregory began his career at the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet where he was senior internal policy analyst/revenue auditor and later assistant director of information systems.
Gregory holds a BS in accounting and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Kentucky and is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Senior Advisor, EEQ Certification
Denise DeZolt, PhD is currently Consultant and Owner of DD and Associates Consulting, LLC. She serves as Senior Advisor for EEQ Certification.
Dr. DeZolt has over 30 years of experience in higher education, with the last 12 in global quality assurance and accreditation. Her community and professional service activities include participation on college/university and community boards, involvement in professional organizations, coordination of faith formation programs, and service on human participants in research review boards. Dr. DeZolt’s presentations at international, national, state and local professional conferences have been in the areas of global accreditation and quality assurance, higher education in the for-profit sector, and distance education. She was the primary or co-primary investigator on federal, state, local, foundation, and university grants related to serving diverse populations of children and adolescents. Additionally, she worked in private practice for several years focusing on children and families.
Dr. DeZolt earned her Ph.D. in School Psychology from Kent State University, her M.S. Ed. in Counseling from the University of Dayton, and her BA in Behavioral Science from SUNY Plattsburgh.
Senior Advisor, Research & Evaluation
Dr. Gary J. Burkholder is the Senior Research Scholar and Senior Contributing Faculty at Walden University. He serves as Senior Advisor for Research and Analytics for the QA Commons,
Dr. Burkholder has served in several senior academic and business administration roles including Program Director, Director of Online Studies, Assistant Dean, Dean, college Vice President, Vice President for Research, and Vice President for Academic Affairs. During his tenure with Laureate Education, Inc, a global network of institutions of higher education, Dr. Burkholder served as Program Director and Academic Research Lead for the Laureate Professional Assessment, in which he collaborated in the development of a cross-cultural instrument to assess workplace readiness in newly graduating undergraduate students. Dr. Burkholder’s research focus spans qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods including multivariable statistical analysis and instrument development. He has conducted research in topics that intersect psychology and public health, including those involving exercise and diet behavior change and adherence; predictors of substance use, sex risk, and HIV risk among youth and adults. More recently, Dr. Burkholder’s research interests have involved retention and persistence in tertiary education as well as online pedagogy. He has served as author on approximately 70 peer-reviewed publications and collaborated in over 70 conference presentations. Dr. Burkholder is active the American Public Health Association, serves as a peer reviewer with the Higher Learning Commission regional accreditation body, and serves as a reviewer for several professional journals in education, psychology, and public health.
Dr. Burkholder received his Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island in Experimental Psychology as well as his MA and BA degrees in Psychology. He also earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree from the University of Washington.
Dr. Burkholder has received several teaching and mentoring awards, including the distinguished faculty award at Walden University, the award to the dissertation chair of the student receiving the Outstanding Dissertation Award, the David Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and the Laureate Education Pyramid Award for excellence in Technology, Business, and Education. He is also the recipient of the University of Rhode Island Distinguished Achievement Award.
Senior Advisor, Employer Engagement
Brad Clark is the Lead Principal at Latent Talent Accelerator, and currently serves as the Senior Advisor of Employer Engagement for Quality Assurance Commons.
Before founding Latent Talent Accelerator, he was the National Director of Economic Opportunity and Professional Learning at Hope Street Group. He also served as the State Director of the Kentucky Teacher Fellows Network for Hope Street Group from 2015 to 2017. Prior to leaving the classroom, Brad was an upper elementary teacher for nearly a decade and has served in a number of advisory and community-based roles in education and workforce over the past 15 years.
Brad holds a BA in history from Eastern Kentucky University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Morehead State University.
The Board of Directors oversees the organization, with a focus on mission, strategy and goals.
Chief Academic Officers, Chief Executive Officers, and other dedicated experts serve our mission as advisors, advocates, and sounding boards.
University Registrar / Assistant Vice Provost, Homewood Student Affairs, Johns Hopkins University
Trustees Professor Emeritus, Kent State University; author; and consultant to Lumina Foundation
Executive Vice Chancellor & Chief Academic Officer & Professor of Psychology, Office of Academic Affairs
Chief Executive Officer, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) in Australia
Graduate Student Representative, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
A group of employers and provosts has convened in Kentucky to link employer needs with the certification process for the participating postsecondary programs in the state.
Executive Director, Workforce Center Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Chief People an Culture Officer, Baptist Health System
Manager, Community & Government Relations, Toyota Motor Engineering
Workforce Development Manager, UPS
VP, Kentucky Beam Bourbon Affairs, Beam Suntory
Executive Director, Eastern Kentucky CEP, Inc.
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