Upfront

Former APA Committee on Accreditation Chair Susan D. Phillips, PhD, will soon be applying her knowledge on a broader level. In January, Phillips joined the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, an 18-member committee that advises the U.S. secretary of education on accreditation issues, including decisions to recognize accrediting organizations, such as APA.

The U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and Department of Education each select six members for the advisory committee, which will meet for the first time this spring.

“This is a great chance for me to take what I’ve learned and what I know to a whole different level of perspective,” she says.

Phillips, the provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University at Albany, SUNY, brings a rich background in quality assurance to her new position. “The whole thing started with APA,” says Phillips, who served on APA’s Committee on Accreditation for five years before moving on to other accrediting agencies and organizations, such as the New York State Board for Standards and Practices in Education.

Phillips will have ample opportunity to put her experience to good use, because the government’s advisory committee was disbanded, then reformed as a larger committee last year. That’s created a backlog of work assessing programs and advising on such issues as a proposed standardized test for undergraduate college students.

Phillips says she thinks about quality in higher education in two ways. First, programs must use their resources thoughtfully. Second, programs need to have goals and meet them.

“It’s not just how many books are in the library,” says Phillips. “It’s what students learn from those books and whether that’s what they were supposed to learn.”

Phillips developed this approach during her time at APA, she says. “These are the types of things that anyone working with educational quality must think about,” says Phillips. “I’m happy to bring APA’s perspective to a whole new venue.”

—J. Clark