National Education Leader Roger Benjamin to Speak at Barton’s 108th Commencement

WILSON, N.C. – Roger Benjamin, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of the New York based Council for Aid to Education (CAE), will be the featured speaker at the 108th annual commencement exercises of Barton College, scheduled for Sunday, May 23.  He will be awarded the Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, during the ceremony.

Dr. Benjamin is currently leading CAE’s Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) Project, a national initiative to measure student learning outcomes in undergraduate education. He also examines issues of higher education policy, public policy, and comparative political policy.

Barton’s relationship with Dr. Benjamin began with the College’s participation in the CLA project, and his research has had a significant impact on this North Carolina college campus.

Barton College is currently ranked in the top quartile nationally in value-added education as measured by the CLA. “The College began using the CLA about five years ago in order to more intentionally provide evidence of student learning in its ‘engaged learning’ program,” said Dr. Norval C. Kneten, president of Barton College.  “For some years now, Barton has engaged its students by requiring them to apply knowledge and understanding rather than relying upon rote memory.”

The CLA goes beyond the usual multiple-choice format and requires real-world performance tasks of students.  It challenges students by requiring them to select and justify a position on an issue, to evaluate the logic of an argument, and to complete a real-world task such as preparing a briefing report or a well documented recommendation.

“Our era has been called the “information age,” but the flood of information overwhelms even those with a photographic memory,” shared Dr. Terry Grimes, vice president for academic affairs.  “There is a growing consensus among educational leaders and business leaders that what really counts is the ability to process the vast amount of available information, to think clearly, and to write effectively in interpreting the data.”

The CLA yields two types of scores.  First, the performance of freshmen and seniors is measured and compared to expected performance levels.  Then, institutions are rated on student gains in performance.

Implementing these new intensive curriculum-based learning experiences has allowed Barton College to take the next step in insuring that its future graduates will be uniquely prepared for the jobs of the future and will successfully meet the competitive challenges of the 21st century.

Prior to his assuming his leadership role with the Council for Aid to Education, Dr. Benjamin served as director of RAND Education from 1994 to 1999 and senior research scientist at RAND from 1990 to 2005.

Previous to his appointment to RAND, Dr. Benjamin was a member of the Political Science Department of the University of Minnesota from 1966 to 1983 and associate dean and executive officer, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, from 1980 to 1983; senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at the University of Pittsburgh from 1983 to 1986; vice president for academic affairs and provost, University of Minnesota, from 1986 to 1988, and professor of political science, University of Minnesota, from 1988 to 1990.  At both universities, he led institution-wide strategic planning efforts.

Dr. Benjamin is the author or co-author of 18 books and monographs and numerous articles on institutional design related questions in political change and public policy including: “The Limits of Politics: Collective Goods and Political Change in Postindustrial Societies” (1980), “The Democratic State” (1986), and “Balancing State Intervention: The Limits of Transatlantic Markets” (1995).

In education policy, his work includes articles and monographs on the following topics: From Growth to Change: The Role of the University in Postindustrial Society (1983), The Redesign of Governance in Higher Education (1994), Impediments and Imperative in Redesigning Higher Education (1996), Breaking the Social Contract: The Fiscal Crisis in Higher Education (1997), The Implications of the Changed Environment for Governance (1998), Looming Deficits Causes, Consequences, and Cures (1998), Value Added Assessment of Liberal Education (2002), The Environment of American Higher Education: A Constellation of Changes (2004), Recreating the Faculty Role in University Governance (2006), Assessment Versus Accountability in Higher Education (2006), and The Case for Comparative Institutional Assessment of Higher-Order Thinking Skills (2008).

Dr. Benjamin has led research teams in five recent strategic planning engagements to redesign universities in California (1995-96), the City University of New York (CUNY) (1999), Texas (2000), Nevada (2001), and Qatar (2004-07).


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