Dr. Bill Holda on Accreditation and the Evolution of Institutional Data Cultures: National Advisory Board Conversation Series

The Civitas Learning National Advisory Board is comprised of researchers, association leaders, and executives whose expertise has influenced higher education policy and practice across the United States and around the world, and has guided our work from day one.

We continue this NAB Conversation Series — an opportunity to learn from these luminaries as we strive together to help more, and more diverse students learn well and finish strong — with Dr. William “Bill” Holda, Former President of Kilgore College, a senior statesman working with the legislature of Texas, a powerful liaison working with The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) and with the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), participating in presidential searches. Of particular note, Bill is a longstanding champion of small and rural colleges. 

He discusses the new ways in which accrediting bodies are looking at data as part of the accreditation process, and how institutions have changed their data cultures in order to meet new requirements. Watch a snippet of this conversation below.

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Dr. Holda also shared his experience with presidential searches, and noted that increasingly important traits in candidates for these positions include: The ability to fundraise, to champion both student access and success, to lead change in academic and student-services strategies, and to get involved with shaping enabling policy with boards and legislatures that help positive change take hold. Moreover, and especially important for rising leaders to understand: you must be intimate with the details of your student population. You have to know the data.

In terms of overcoming the challenges involved in providing support for students, Dr. Holda mentioned that many institutions can’t double the size of their advising team, so they have to find ways to not only leverage their expertise, but scale it so that students can have the support they need. He also discussed the importance of the intentional design of student journeys through our institutions, but noted that institutions have all-too-often focused on one-sized-fits-all pathways. In addition, once they are rolled out, many well-designed pathways that are not necessarily guided. Make no mistake, Bill is a supporter of the guided pathways movement. However, he argues that institutions have to look closely at the lived experience of actual students and ask how they are helping their diverse array of striving learners navigate personalized pathways with a sort of “GPS system” aimed at their unique destinations.

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