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WCU hires new director of institutional assessment

By Benny Smith

Karen Price has been named as the new director of institutional assessment at Western Carolina University. Price will begin her role Thursday, June 29.

“Institutional assessment is a critical element of quality assurance for any university and I am delighted that we are welcoming such an outstanding new leader in this regard,” said Carol Burton, vice provost for academic affairs. “Dr. Price’s exemplary performance in leading assessment at previous institutions of higher education will build on our trajectory of continuous improvement and extend the outstanding work of Dr. Jen Schiff, interim director of institutional assessment, and her staff. I am excited to work with Dr. Price in her new role.”

Schiff is returning to her faculty position as professor of political science and public affairs and director of liberal studies assessment.  

karen price

Karen Price

Price comes to WCU from Belmont Abbey College in Gastonia, as the vice provost and dean of institutional effectiveness. She has also served as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges institutional accreditation liaison since 2018.

“I am excited to ‘Live Western’ and to help further the culture of assessment so that our faculty, staff and students can also share how their personal experiences and programmatic successes help shape what it means to Live Western to the fullest extent possible,” Price said.

Price has also held many other roles in institutional research, including executive director of institutional effectiveness at Central Piedmont Community College, research specialist with the Rock Hill (South Carolina) School District and director of institutional research at Belmont Abbey College.

“I am looking forward to listening, learning and sharing a vision of assessment at WCU that extends beyond compliance and checking boxes to creating meaningful dialogue and powerful storytelling,” Price said. “Data gathering, analysis and assessment are important to evidence-informed decision-making, but without context, the data themselves do not generate impact. Everyone has a story and it is from those stories that we understand ourselves and the world in which we live and work.”

Price received her doctorate from the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky, where her dissertation focused on institutional assessment. She attained her master’s degree in sport psychology and behavior counseling at West Virginia University and received her bachelor’s degree in communication science from the University of Pittsburgh.

In her new role at WCU, Price will be responsible for planning, organizing and coordinating university assessment processes, including annual unit outcomes, assessment reporting and periodic unit reviews. She also will be supporting continuous improvement of programs and units through consultation and professional development for faculty and staff. Price’s responsibilities also include establishing and working with a network of primary assessment contacts in colleges, departments, and units on campus.

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