A new position that is hoped will help with “big picture thinking” at East Central College has been filled.
Dr. Michelle L. Smith will begin her work as the college’s first executive director of institutional effectiveness in August.
The position has been slated as a possible answer to the college’s issues with connecting the different arms of the college.
Smith has served as the Missouri Professional Learning Communities (MO PLC) data and web coordinator since 2012, where she collected and analyzed data from hundreds of school districts across Missouri.
She also has coordinated program evaluation of MO PLC, facilitated data-based decision making, assessed implementation of best practices in exemplary school districts and maintained web and technological resources for the organizations.
Before she began her work at MO PLC, she worked at the South Central Regional Professional Development Council, Rolla, and was an elementary educator.
Her first task, she said, will be to learn everything she can about the college and get to work on the new strategic plan. She said there is a lot of good work currently happening at East Central College and she’s excited to be a part of it.
“I’m looking forward to learning everything I can about the campus and helping the firm who will be creating the new strategic plan,” Smith said. “I know there are a lot of great things going on at East Central right now and I want to look at improving those things and adjusting things as needed.”
She added that the buy-in the college has from its community is a big part of what makes ECC a great college.
“I think there’s a great deal of excitement and interest in East Central’s future,” Smith said. “I think the support that everyone I have visited with, including Dr. Bauer and the members of the selection committees, and the support they’ve given to this position demonstrates great interest in making a good college even better.”
Smith, an, Owensville resident, said she has a knowledge of the area surrounding ECC and her daughter formerly attended and graduated from the college.
“I’m looking forward to taking what I already know about the immediate area around East Central and growing that knowledge,” she said. “I’m looking foward to being part of the community.”
The director will provide leadership in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of institutional effectiveness while also taking responsibility for assessment, research, accreditation processes and planning at the college.
The position was proposed in response to ECC being threatened with possible probation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) after its visit last year. In the visiting HLC team’s report, among several problem areas was a lack of data-driven decisionmaking, an area the new director will coordinate.
That recommendation for probation was eased and is now a recommendation for an “on-notice” identification for the college’s accreditation. However, the effects of the visit have been broad and the calls for a director of institutional effectiveness were echoed by many of the college’s faculty and staff and the several committees that were formed after the HLC’s original recommendation.
ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer said Smith will be a huge asset to the college moving forward and that her experience with school districts in the state will be valuable to the college.
“I’m happy that we were able to go into the search and very directly get to a candidate who will really provide a great benefit,” he said. “Dr. Smith has worked with school districts from around the state and school districts are frankly very experienced and increasingly comfortable with the use of a lot of data to access how they’re doing and how they can improve. We look to benefit from that.”
The college’s board of trustees approved the creation of the position in March, 5-1.