Newman University Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Rosemary Niedens has been named a scholar for the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) Academy for Assessment of Student Learning, and the Persistence and Completion Academy.
The HLC created the two academies to help member institutions develop strategies to improve in the areas of assessment of student learning and student persistence and completion, two vital areas in student learning and success.
Niedens first became involved with the HLC Academy for Assessment of Student Learning in 2007 when Newman became a participant. Soon after, Niedens was asked to become a primary mentor for the HLC and help guide other schools in the program.
“My duties at this time included working with about four or five other schools,” Niedens said. “I communicated with them about their assessment processes and helped them along the way.”
All institutions participating in the academies also have senior scholars who oversee the mentors’ work with participating schools. Scholars also assist in other academy events. When a scholar position opened up, Niedens was provided the opportunity to fill the position.
“They said, ‘We’ve been watching you be a primary mentor and you’re doing a great job. We want you to move up to this higher level,’” Niedens said.
The HLC works with 19 central states; each scholar has up to 40 schools they are working with at any given time.
“To be here in Wichita, Kan., and have somebody that’s used to dealing with all these people say, ‘We really want you’ is a nice pat on the back,” Niedens said.
As a scholar, Niedens will work with up to 40 schools and will review their work as well as their primary mentors’ work. She will also travel once a year to round table discussions, where she will help introduce and facilitate the process of developing each school’s master projects, and occasionally will train primary mentors on their processes.
“It’s nice to feel like the work I’ve done with retention or assessment at Newman and throughout my career is going to be pushed out and help other people as well,” Niedens said. “Helping these schools achieve their own destiny or accomplish their own school missions and goals, it’s really fun. It’s very fulfilling.”
Niedens said she also benefits from the position because she is able to gain knowledge and experience from the many other schools she will be working with. Out of the 40 schools Niedens will monitor, some will be junior colleges, technical schools, private four-year universities or public four-year universities. This will provide an opportunity, Niedens said, to learn from all these schools how different ideas and allocation of resources can impact the success of academy areas.
Niedens said she feels that the interesting thing about this work is that you can see the success right away.
“The goal, and not just at Newman, is to create an educated populous,” Niedens said. “I believe in the value of liberal arts and the value of higher education to allow people to reach their God-given mandate and their personal mission. Education is key to that.”