Blaich Named Director of HEDS Consortium

by Jim Amidon

December 16, 2010

Joint leadership of Wabash’s Center of Inquiry and HEDS will promote new collaborations for assessing student learning and promoting institutional effectiveness
Wabash College professor Charles F. Blaich has been appointed director of the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) consortium.
HEDS is a consortium of private colleges and universities that supports member institutions through the collection and sharing of national comparative data needed for effective strategic planning. Its 135 members are premier private colleges and universities with an emphasis on liberal arts education.
Blaich is currently Director of Inquiries at the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College. Dr. Blaich will continue to serve the Center of Inquiry as its director, a position he has held since 2002. The Center of Inquiry collaborates with institutions across the country to gather and use evidence to strengthen liberal arts education.
The Center of Inquiry’s groundbreaking Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education is a large-scale, longitudinal study investigating critical factors that affect the outcomes of a liberal arts education. Blaich also directs the Center’s Teagle Assessment Scholar Program, which identifies and develops people who have the knowledge, technical skills, social prowess, and political savvy necessary to help colleges and universities use evidence to strengthen the impact of liberal arts education for students
Blaich’s leadership of both the Center of Inquiry and HEDS will pave the way for great progress and efficiency in learning assessment.
“The aim of the partnership is to link the purposes of our Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and HEDS, creating synergies between the Center and its national work in assessment with its Teagle Scholar program and the data gathering power of HEDS,” said Wabash Dean Gary A. Phillips. “This is a major moment for the College.”
“The collaboration with HEDS makes the Center an even stronger national influence and an increasingly important platform for strengthening liberal arts education through careful assessment and analysis,” added Wabash President Patrick E. White. “This partnership is a testament to Dr. Blaich’s reputation and work, and it is another step in the actualization of the full promise of the Center.”
“Charlie Blaich is a nationally prominent higher-education researcher who designed and administered the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education and the Teagle Assessment Scholar program,” Susan Canon, chair of the HEDS Board of Directors, said. “These efforts have generated an unprecedented amount of assessment data for participating institutions as well as the new mechanisms for helping institutions use the data to improve student learning. We are thrilled about having Charlie apply his considerable talents and energy to new and existing HEDS initiatives.”
In November, Blaich received the Council of Independent Colleges' Award for Academic Leadership at a national conference for chief academic and financial officers. The prestigious award is given by the CIC to a nationally recognized educator for leadership in assisting private college chief academic officers in their work.
“I believe that HEDS can both have great impact and assume a national leadership role in higher education by expanding its services to help member institutions more fully use HEDS data for institutional improvement,” Blaich said. “The Center's approach of creating cross-institution communities of practice for using assessment data can also be applied to working collaboratively on institutional cost analyses, retention, and other institutional needs connected with the kinds of data that HEDS institutions gather and share.”
Blaich will retain his position at Wabash’s Center of Inquiry as he takes on the duties of HEDS director. Working with the HEDS board of directors, staff, and membership, his initial tasks will be to review current services and products HEDS members receive, to identify initiatives related to two or three priorities from the HEDS Strategic Plan for recommendation to the membership at its June 2011 annual meeting, and to identify a new multi-institution national project for the consortium to develop and implement. 
HEDS assists member institutions in planning, management, institutional research, decision-support, policy analysis, educational evaluation, and assessment. HEDS fulfills its mission by assembling, analyzing and sharing mutually agreed-upon and regularly updated historical information about member (and other) institutions, by offering professional development opportunities through a network of colleagues at other member institutions, and by providing other services including special studies, research reports, member conferences and workshops and advisory services.


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