NWCCU Annual Conference

Speakers Zoom How-To Sponsors Attendees

Paucity of Data and Measures, Surfeit of Needs to Address Equity

November 18-19, 2021

With a focus on providing quality information to attendees and ensuring the health and safety of all involved, NWCCU has decided on conducting a fully-virtual event for this November. An online conference not only allows greater attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also expands access for institutions experiencing financial hardship.


Pre-Conference Workshops

Tuesday, November 16th

-Draft Agenda, subject to change-

(Listed in Pacific Time)    
9:00 am – 4:00 pm The Time to Lead is Now How do institutional leaders leverage the moment we are in now to shape conversations around what it means to serve students (student voice), and being culturally competent campuses (leadership, equity, and diversity are all part of the same domains)? This pre-conference workshop will focus on how you move institutional efforts in support of promoting student success and closing equity gaps from merely transactional to transformational. You will not only hear from model institutions but also participate in working groups to see how policy can support accountability in this work and how you apply this practically. Join us in teams of 2-3 from your institution. Featured speakers: Adrianna Kezar, Dean’s Professor of Leadership, Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education, at the University of Southern California and Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education; Herman Bounds, Director, Accreditation Group, Office of Post Secondary Education, US Department of Education
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Two-Year College Assessment : Process and Practice

A targeted workshop for two-year institutions on articulating goals, curriculum mapping and alignment, strategies to assess student learning, connecting mission fulfillment/institutional effectiveness and planning, and applying effective assessment practices across the institution.

Wednesday, November 17th

-Draft Agenda, subject to change-

(Listed in Pacific Time)  Workshops are concurrent; plan your day with us!

8:00am – 9:30am

NWCCU Evaluator Training Moderator: Selena M. Grace, Senior Vice President, NWCCU

Cultural Competencies (Evaluating Tribal Institutions) : This will be an interactive learning exercise discussing situational scenarios found before, during, or after an evaluation team visit to an institution.

8:00am – 8:30am

New ALO Training

Moderator: Pamela Goad, Executive Vice President, NWCCU An introductory overview of the 2020 Accreditation Standards, welcoming new institutional representatives.

8:30am – 9:30am

ALO Training

Moderator: Pamela Goad, Executive Vice President, NWCCU A review of NWCCU policy updates, Accreditation Standards, and discussion of exhibits and materials in preparation for NWCCU evaluations.

9:00am – 12:00pm


NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellowship Moderator: Mac Powell, Senior Vice President, NWCCU Convening Meeting for Year Three Fellows. (Fellows Only)

10:00am – 11:30am

New Chair Training

Moderator: Ron Larsen, Senior Vice President, NWCCU An introductory overview of the resources, process, and situational scenarios found before, during, or after an evaluation team visit to an institution.

10:00am – 11:30am

NWCCU Evaluator Training


Moderator: Pamela Goad, Executive Vice President, NWCCU

Cultural Competencies (Evaluating Faith-based Institutions) : This will be an interactive learning exercise discussing situational scenarios found before, during, or after an evaluation team visit to an institution. Featured speaker: Robin Baker, President, George Fox University

10:30am – 11:30am

NWCCU Annual Meeting Moderator: Sonny Ramaswamy, President, NWCCU Year in Review of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Celebration of Evaluators   Join us in celebrating and recognizing the amazing contribution of our NWCCU volunteers. Learn about the roles and experiences of Evaluators, Committee Members, and review panelists.

1:00pm – 4:00pm

NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellowship Moderator: Mac Powell, Senior Vice President, NWCCU NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellows present final projects applying mission fulfillment best practices to an institutional challenge/opportunity at their institution.
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm President’s Presentations Moderator: Sonny Ramaswamy, President, NWCCU NWCCU’s President introduces a series of presentations covering topics that are at the fore of higher education:
  The Higher Education Federal Policy Landscape: Insights from Washington Terry Hartle, American Council on Education  
  The Critical Role of Accrediting Agencies in Driving Institutional Improvement

Steven Mintz, Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin

  TBA: Strategic communication theory and research, with a focus on science and risk communication Dominique Brossard, Professor & Chair in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison  
Cultivating a Culturally Responsive Approach to College Mental Health
Dominique Broussard, Licensed Psychologist, Broussard Psychological Services  

Annual Conference Agenda

Thursday, November 18th

-Draft Agenda, subject to change-

(Listed in Pacific Time)
8:30 am Welcome and Conference Kick-Off
    Sonny Ramaswamy, President, NWCCU
  Plenary Session One
    Keynote Presentation
TBA  |  Michelle Asha Cooper
    Using ROI Measures to Identify Areas of Improvement   |  Michael Itzkowitz
  The Beacon Awards |  Thayne McCulloh, President, Gonzaga University and NWCCU Board Chair
  TBA presented by Barnes & Noble College
  Plenary Session Two
    TBA  |  Doug Shapiro
    Next Generation Undergraduate Measurement for Institutional Improvement, Advancing Equity and Accreditation   |  Richard Arum
    The Importance of Race-consciousness Programs for Higher Education   |  Vinay Harpalani
    Digital Transformation in Higher Education   |   Maria Spies
4:45 pm Wrap-Up, Day One


Friday, November 19th

-Draft Agenda, subject to change-

(Listed in Pacific Time)
8:30 am Plenary Session Three
    Human Values on College Campuses: Ethics, Morality, Religiosity, Social Media   |   Greg Epstein
    Key Considerations at the Intersection of Digital Learning and Equity   |   Jessica Williams
    TBA  |  Greg Heileman
    Socially Just Design in the Transfer Experience: The Future of Transfer Is Up to You!   |  Andrew Koch, John Gardner
  Q & A with Drew Koch & John Gardner
  TBA presented by Academic Search
  Plenary Session Four
    Rethinking Transfer in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond: Interstate Passport   |   Sarah Leibrandt
    A Data Literacy Mindset   |  Leah Ewing Ross, Jason R. Lewis
    Scaling Corequisite Support as an Evidence-Based Approach to Transform Remediation for Student Success   |   Brandon Protas, Elizabeth Cox Brand, Renée Davis, Maxine Roberts
3:15 pm Wrap-Up, Day Two


Featured Speakers

Richard Arum is dean of the School of Education at University of California, Irvine. He served as senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and director of Education Research Programs at the Social Science Research Council. He is co-author of Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates and Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses; as well as co-editor of Improving Quality in American Higher Education: Learning Outcomes and Assessment for the 21st Century and Stratification in Higher Education: A Comparative Study. He received a M.Ed.from Harvard and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the U.C., Berkeley.


Elizabeth Cox Brand is the Executive Director of the Oregon Student Success Center. Originally from Iowa, Elizabeth received her doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership from Iowa State University in 2007. After graduation, she accepted the position of Assistant Director of the California Community College Collaborative, a community college research and policy center at the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Brand came to Oregon in 2011 as Director of Communications and Research for the Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development and moved to the Oregon Community College Association in 2014 to assume the position of Director of Student Success and Assessment. In August 2016, grant funding from The Ford Family Foundation and the Oregon Community Foundation provided the opportunity for Elizabeth to become the first Executive Director of the Oregon Student Success Center. Elizabeth has professional experience in K-12, community colleges, and universities, with a particular emphasis on student services and enrollment management.

Dr. Dominique Broussard is a Licensed Psychologist and owner of Broussard Psychological Services. She was born and raised in New Orleans but currently lives in Oakland, California. Her career has focused on providing therapy and teaching at college campuses in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and California. Dr. Broussard’s work is focused on uplifting anyone she encounters, but particularly Black folx. Additionally, she is the co-host of the globally recognized Cultivating H.E.R. Space podcast where the focus is on empowering Black women with tips on mental health, self-help, and overall wellness.

(Featured in the Pre-Conference workshop: Presidential Presentation)


Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D., currently serves as the acting assistant secretary for post-secondary education and deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs at the U.S. Department of Education. In these roles, she oversees the Department’s work to support and strengthen the capacity of colleges and universities to promote innovation and improvement for students and broaden the attainment of global competencies that drive the economic success and competitiveness of the nation.

Dr. Cooper brings more than 20 years of experience to this work. Most recently, she served as the president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, where she managed the organization’s expansive research portfolio and advocacy agenda. She has also held leadership positions at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Council for Independent Colleges, and King’s College. Dr. Cooper served as the deputy director for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance at the U.S. Department of Education.

A recognized advocate for racial and economic equity, experienced practitioner, and demonstrated leader, Dr. Cooper is a champion of access and success for all students in higher education.

Renée Davis is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), comprised of two doctoral-granting universities, a state college, four comprehensive community colleges and one environmental research institute.  Renée began her higher education career in the financial aid office at one of the system’s community colleges and came to the system office in 2011.  Along with Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Crystal Abba, Renée provides system-level leadership for NSHE’s co-requisite implementation Initiative, which was designed to support campuses in complying with a statewide policy mandate requiring campuses to implement co-requisite math and English at scale by Fall 2021. Implementation efforts include organizing professional development sessions for faculty and advisors, ensuring that grant funds used to support implementations were utilized effectively, coordinating discussions related to assessment, and regular reporting to the system’s governing board that established the co-requisite mandate.

Greg M. Epstein serves as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, where he is also currently serving (for 2021-22) as the president of the Harvard Chaplains, Harvard University’s corps of over forty chaplains from more than 20 different religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions. Greg also serves the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as humanist chaplain and as Convener for Ethical Life at the MIT Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life. His New York Times bestselling book, “Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe,” continues to be influential years after its initial publication helped popularize the notion that the rapidly growing population of atheists, agnostics, and nonreligious people can live lives of deep purpose, compassion, and connection. He has also written for TechCrunch, The Boston Globe, CNN.com, and The Washington Post.

Vinay Harpalani teaches courses in constitutional law, civil procedure, employment discrimination, and race and law. Professor Harpalani was the recipient of the 2017 Derrick A. Bell, Jr. Award from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Minority Groups, and the 2016 Junior Teaching Faculty Award from the Society of American Law Teachers. His scholarship explores the nuances of racial diversity, identity, and equity from an interdisciplinary perspective. Professor Harpalani is recognized as a national expert on affirmative action in university admissions. He has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Time magazine, among other media outlets. His 2012 article, Diversity Within Racial Groups and the Constitutionality of Race-Conscious Admissions, was cited in eight U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin I and II and was quoted (critically, with citation omitted) in Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent in Fisher II. Several of his other articles have been cited in legal briefs or opinions at the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the New York Court of Appeals. Additionally, Professor Harpalani’s 2013 article, DesiCrit: Theorizing the Racial Ambiguity of South Asian Americans, is commonly cited as a framework for examining the racial experiences of Asian Indian Americans. He has also written about skin color discrimination, racial identity among Black children, and Asian Americans’ position in the U.S. racial landscape. Professor Harpalani earned his J.D. from New York University School of Law, his Ph.D. and Masters degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and his bachelors degrees from the University of Delaware.

Terry W. Hartle is one of America’s most effective and experienced advocates for higher education. At ACE, where he has served for more than 20 years, he directs comprehensive efforts to engage federal policymakers on a broad range of issues including student aid, government regulation, scientific research and tax policy. His work involves representation before the U.S. Congress, administrative agencies and the federal courts. As an expert voice on behalf of colleges and universities, he is quoted widely in the national and international media on higher education issues.

Given ACE’s historic role in coordinating the government relations efforts of some 60 associations in the Washington-based higher education community, Hartle plays a central part in developing public policy positions that impact all colleges and universities, and also oversees the Council’s external relations functions.

Prior to joining the council in 1993, Hartle served for six years as education staff director for the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, then chaired by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Prior to 1987, he was director of social policy studies and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a research scientist at the Educational Testing Service. Hartle has authored or co-authored numerous articles, books, and national studies and contributes regular book reviews to The Christian Science Monitor. He is a member of the Smith College Board of Trustees.

Hartle received a doctorate in public policy from The George Washington University (GWU), a master’s in public administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, and a bachelor’s degree in history (summa cum laude) from Hiram College. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by Northeastern University. He has received the GWU President’s Medal, the Hiram College Alumni Achievement Award, and has been inducted into the Hiram College Athletic Hall of Fame. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.​​​​​​

(Featured in the Pre-Conference workshop: Presidential Presentation)

Michael Itzkowitz is the founder and President of the HEA Group. He also serves as a Senior Fellow for the think tank Third Way where he helps shape their higher education advocacy agenda. He works with Capitol Hill, the Administration, and other postsecondary-focused organizations, developing and implementing policies to ensure that more low- and moderate-income students are earning degrees from quality programs that will equip them to succeed in the 21st century economy. His work is frequently featured in national news outlets, such as the New York Times, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal.

Prior to joining Third Way, Michael served as a Presidential Appointee for six years in the U.S. Department of Education, assuming a number of roles in K-12 and higher education. Most recently, he was the Director of the College Scorecard, an Obama Administration initiative focused on higher education transparency and accountability. Michael also served as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of Postsecondary Education, overseeing the policy and administrative functions of the office, which includes over 180 employees across three divisions that disburse approximately $2.5 billion in grants and establish policy for nearly $120 billion in Federal student aid every year. There, he led the office’s Organizational Performance team and directed policy initiatives on accreditation, minority serving institutions, financial aid award letters, and data transparency.

Michael received his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Florida.




Adrianna Kezar is Dean’s Professor of Leadership, Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education, at the University of Southern California and Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education within the Rossier School of Education. Dr. Kezar is a national expert of student success, equity and diversity, the changing faculty, change, governance and leadership in higher education.

Kezar is well published with 20 books/monographs, over 100 journal articles, and over a hundred book chapters and reports. Recent books include: The Gig Academy (2019) (Johns Hopkins Press), Administration for social justice and equity (2019) (Routledge), The Faculty for the 21st century: Moving to a mission-oriented and learner-centered faculty model (2016) (Rutgers Press), and How Colleges Change (2018) (2nd ed) (Routledge Press).

(Featured in the Pre-Conference workshop: The Time to Lead is Now)

Dr. Andrew “Drew” K. Koch is the President and Chief Operating Officer for the non-profit John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education which he joined in 2010. In his role, he provides strategic leadership and operations oversight for the Institute in its efforts to help colleges improve teaching, learning, student success and, in the process of doing so, mitigate inequitable outcomes and advance social justice. Prior to coming to Gardner Institute, Drew spent nearly 20 years working in both independent and public post-secondary institutions on student enrollment, access, success, accreditation, learning, and completion efforts with a particular emphasis on first-generation, low-income, and historically under-represented students. He holds a B.A. degree in History and German from the University of Richmond, a M.A. degree in history from the University of Richmond, a M.A. in higher education administration from the University of South Carolina, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue University. He has served as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than two dozen grant-funded research projects with support coming from sources such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ECMC Foundation, GEAR UP, Kresge Foundation, Lilly Endowment, Lumina Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. His scholarship focuses on critical university studies and the role of colleges and universities in shaping culture, equity, and democracy in the United States. He has published widely on student access and success topics, with a particular emphasis on historically underrepresented and under-served populations, the first-year experience, transfer, gateway courses, and redesign of unjust education systems.

Sarah Leibrandt, Ph.D. is the director of Academic Leadership Initiatives at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. In this role, she oversees two membership networks, the Western Academic Leadership Forum (Forum) and the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders (Alliance), which enable provosts, vice presidents of academic affairs, and chief academic officers throughout the West to network and collaborate on initiatives supporting key higher education issues. Leibrandt also leads Interstate Passport program, a nationwide network of institutions working to improve student transfer through the block transfer of lower division general education. Leibrandt has been with WICHE since 2013. Prior to joining WICHE, Leibrandt worked for the Colorado Department of Education and Red Rocks Community College. Leibrandt earned a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Steven Mintz is professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, a pioneer in the application of new technologies to teaching and learning and a leading authority on the history of families, children, and the life course. He previously served as Senior Advisor to the President of Hunter College for student success, Executive Director of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning, and director of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Teaching Center. Past president of H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online and the Society of the History of Children and Youth, he has chaired the Council on Contemporary Families, held a fellowship at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and was a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Center for European Studies.

(Featured in the Pre-Conference workshop: Presidential Presentation)

Brandon Protas serves as a Strategy Director with Complete College America (CCA). He leads the Momentum pillar of strategies which includes Credit for Competency, Multiple Measures, Corequisite Support, Dual Enrollment, and 15 to Finish / Stay on Track. He also supports CCA Alliance members in the West. Brandon is passionate about the role of education as a public good to improve society and as a vehicle to transform individual lives. He utilizes an equity lens to center students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and first-generation students.

Brandon holds a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, a Master of Social Work from Arizona State University, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.

Maxine Roberts, the director of Strong Start to Finish, elevates effective practices and processes for reforming developmental education in university systems.  She has dedicated her career to advancing system-changing, equity focused initiatives that promote access, persistence, and completion for minoritized students in higher education.  Prior to joining Strong Start to Finish, Maxine directed youth-based programs in urban areas, worked with community college faculty to improve their course outcomes, and conducted research on the factors that contribute to success and progress for Black and Latinx students in community college developmental math courses.

Maria Spies is a Founder and Co-CEO of HolonIQ, the world’s leading impact intelligence platform.
Prior to HolonIQ, Maria was the head of digital learning futures for an EdTech corporate venture fund and innovation arm of a global education company. In this role, Maria worked with EdTech start-ups and founders around the world to support their growth, and led research projects about the future of learning, such as Global EdTech Landscape and Higher Education Digital Transformation.
Maria has worked in public and private higher education for over 20 years in Asia and Australia specializing in transforming education through technology. As the global head of Learning & Teaching Services for a global education company, Maria built and led innovation teams, driving innovation in curriculum, teaching and the student experience in over 50 countries.


Jessica Rowland Williams is the Director of Every Learner Everywhere, a network of organizations with a mission to help institutions use new technology to innovate teaching and learning and better serve Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students, poverty-affected students, and first-generation students. As Director, she provides leadership and vision for the network and leads the operation of the network strategy. Jessica earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and earned both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University.


…and more to come!

SPONSORS of the 2021 NWCCU Annual Conference