Presentation Title

Measuring the Change: Rhetorical criticism as a method of accountability for postsecondary education policymaking

Faculty Advisor Name

Dary Erwin

Description

Strategic plans and planning have played a major role in the growth of postsecondary assessment and accountability practices. University departments and entire institutions have become more responsive to pressures for forward thinking and organizational planning. Almost every level of organization within higher education now probably has a mission, values and goals to help drive the decision-making of and for the organization. And at each level, stakeholders within, above and beyond are holding the organization accountable for meeting the strategic plan.

Missing from these discussions is how to hold institutions at the state level accountable for higher education decision-making. State higher education governance is an important space for higher education policy making because they are the gatekeepers (and advocates) between state general assemblies and the actual higher education institutions within the state. Informally, stakeholders hold state higher education agencies accountable through position appointment/removal, discussions, business meetings, public statements and perhaps even formal petitions and/or demands. Formally though, what processes and procedures exist for the accountability of a state's strategic plan for governing higher education within the state? Given the amount of resources (money, time, political capital and more) invested in and essential role of strategic plans at the state level, it is essential that the accountability movement within higher education grapple with how to assess a state's strategic plan for higher education. This essay argues that more research is needed for how state postsecondary educational agencies could be held accountable for their strategic plans and that one could turn to rhetorical criticism as a method for accountability. To do so, first it is necessary to review the literature on strategic plans within higher education. Second, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia's (SCHEV) most recent strategic plan is offered as a case study for how rhetorical criticism can function as method of accountability. Finally, this essay closes with concluding remarks about rhetorical criticism, accountability and strategic planning in higher education.

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Apr 14th, 9:45 AM Apr 14th, 10:00 AM

Measuring the Change: Rhetorical criticism as a method of accountability for postsecondary education policymaking

Strategic plans and planning have played a major role in the growth of postsecondary assessment and accountability practices. University departments and entire institutions have become more responsive to pressures for forward thinking and organizational planning. Almost every level of organization within higher education now probably has a mission, values and goals to help drive the decision-making of and for the organization. And at each level, stakeholders within, above and beyond are holding the organization accountable for meeting the strategic plan.

Missing from these discussions is how to hold institutions at the state level accountable for higher education decision-making. State higher education governance is an important space for higher education policy making because they are the gatekeepers (and advocates) between state general assemblies and the actual higher education institutions within the state. Informally, stakeholders hold state higher education agencies accountable through position appointment/removal, discussions, business meetings, public statements and perhaps even formal petitions and/or demands. Formally though, what processes and procedures exist for the accountability of a state's strategic plan for governing higher education within the state? Given the amount of resources (money, time, political capital and more) invested in and essential role of strategic plans at the state level, it is essential that the accountability movement within higher education grapple with how to assess a state's strategic plan for higher education. This essay argues that more research is needed for how state postsecondary educational agencies could be held accountable for their strategic plans and that one could turn to rhetorical criticism as a method for accountability. To do so, first it is necessary to review the literature on strategic plans within higher education. Second, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia's (SCHEV) most recent strategic plan is offered as a case study for how rhetorical criticism can function as method of accountability. Finally, this essay closes with concluding remarks about rhetorical criticism, accountability and strategic planning in higher education.