New Institutional Research Director Named

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Laura Palucki Blake, Harvey Mudd College’s new director of institutional research and effectiveness, works with faculty and administrators to develop assessment strategies to improve the College’s academic and co-curricular programs.

“Much of my focus early on will be on making the good work that’s happening more transparent and bringing together different constituencies to have conversations about how the information we have can be used to address the goals, priorities, and interests of Harvey Mudd.” Palucki Blake said.

She was very impressed with the faculty she met when interviewing for her position.

“Several faculty said ‘here’s something we’re trying to understand,’ and to me that’s the start of good institutional research and assessment. When someone says he/she is trying to understand the issue,” Palucki Blake said. “That tells me people are excited and committed to student learning.”

Dean of Faculty Jeff Groves said, “Laura has numerous publications and is a nationally known speaker on the use of assessment tools. She will be a great addition to our community.”

Palucki Blake utilizes data from the Admission and Registrar’s offices as well as national surveys to inform not only classroom-level assessment but also department- and program-level changes. Currently, she is working on a request for a collaborative grant among The Claremont Colleges to look at science majors and women and minorities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

She also is liaison to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Accrediting Commission, manages the accreditation process and assists departments and programs with implementing changes, modifications and improvements that flow out of that process.

“Accreditation has shifted from being something we thought about episodically to something we are thinking about continuously,” she said.

Palucki Blake comes to Harvey Mudd from University of California, Los Angeles, where she had been assistant director of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program since 2009. Before UCLA, Palucki Blake was the director of assessment and assistant professor of psychology at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. Her research interests include developing assessment strategies that promote institutional improvement, access and equity for women and minorities in higher education, and assessment and accountability in higher education.

Palucki Blake earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Smith College and her master’s and PhD in social psychology from The Claremont Graduate University.