The Teaching and Learning Center and the Office of Assessment are co-sponsoring “Why We Assess: Looking Back on a Century of Continuous Improvement” to bring together CSC faculty, staff, and administrators to discuss scholarly articles about the longer history of successful assessment in the private sector. The conversation will invite critical reflection on the application of assessment to higher education so that CSC can focus on how to best fulfill all aspects of our educational mission — within the classroom, across the campus, and out in the community, region, and world.
When the United States Congress passed the Higher Education Act of 1965, it transformed higher education by designating accreditation agencies as the gatekeepers for institutions that receive federal financial aid. In 1989, the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools began mandating outcome-based assessment for accreditation, ushering in a new approach that was rapidly adopted nationwide. Nearly thirty years later, colleges and universities continue to adjust to the new reporting landscape, even as industry and business have embraced the ideal of quality improvement for nearly a century.
The beginnings of statistical quality control are typically traced to Bell Laboratories in the 1920s under the direction of Walter Shewhart. Following World War II, these techniques were introduced systematically to Japanese industry in the radio and communications sector, with Homer Sarasohn and Edward Deming playing important roles.
Two decades later, Japanese industry mounted a serious challenge to United States companies by producing high-quality automobiles and electronic products valued by American consumers. In response, American industry and government re-emphasized the methods pioneered in Bell Labs, represented by Congress instituting the Malcomb Baldrige National Quality Award in 1987 and the profusion of ISO 9000 as a quality management system in the USA and across the globe.
The first symposium of the “Why We Assess” series features CSC President Randy Rhine and will examine the scholarly article “Homer Sarasohn and American Involvement in the Evolution of Quality Management in Japan, 1945-1950.”  This article highlights the unique challenges faced by American officials in communicating with the Japanese people following the destruction of WWII and offers examples of individuals and institutions adapting to nearly overwhelming external pressures while increasing quality by focusing on the “well-being” of personnel.
View the Why We Assess: Looking Back on a Century of Continuous Improvement schedule for complete details regarding symposium series featured speakers and articles.
 Fisher, Nicholas I. “Homer Sarasohn and American Involvement in the Evolution of Quality Management in Japan, 1945-1950.” International Statistical Review / Revue Internationale de Statistique 77, (August 2009): 276-299. Accessed 11 August 2016. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27919728