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ERIC Number: ED524360
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 206
Abstractor: ERIC
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-5697-2044-8
Assessing the Impact of the Spellings Commission: The Message, the Messenger, and the Dynamics of Change in Higher Education
Ruben, Brent D.; Lewis, Laurie; Sandmeyer, Louise
National Association of College and University Business Officers (NJ3)
On September 19, 2005, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced the formation of a Commission on the Future of Higher Education. Over the next two years, the Commission's activities were comprehensively reported and widely debated in the media, and vigorous discussions of the Commission continue. The Commission's Report and responses to it have also generated important questions about the dynamics of change in higher education. "Assessing the Impact of the Spellings Commission" provides a review and analysis of the Commission's activities, the outcome of its work, and the impact of its recommendations, and considers the lessons learned from this process for advancing theory and practice in planning, communication, and change in higher education. This publication takes the form of a case study which begins with a description of the formation and membership of the Commission, an overview of its work for the first year, and a summary of the Commission's Report and recommendations. Soon after its publication, the Report was recast as a "plan for action." Using information from interviews with individuals in different sectors of the higher education community and from published sources, the study analyzes reactions to the Report and its call to action, focusing on issues of both substance and tone. Building on this particular case, this study considers broader questions of impact and puts forward a model of the dynamics of planned change. The study explores a number of "lessons learned" and discusses possible alternate ways of responding to the Report by the academy. The study uses these analyses to elucidate some broader higher education issues related to jurisdiction, autonomy, criticism, communication, and leadership challenges. This report also considers ways in which the Commission and Department of Education might have enhanced the effectiveness of their efforts. Appended are: (1) List of Commission Members; (2) Commission Charter; (3) Higher Education Associations Referenced in the Text; (4) Commission Web Site Page Views and Downloads; (5) Fact Sheet for Action Plan; (6) List of Issue Papers; (7) Organizations and Institutions that Provided Information; and (8) Preliminary Impact Analysis--January 2008 Update. (Contains 2 figures and 132 endnotes.) [This paper was written with Travis Russ, Stacy Smulowitz, and Kate Immordino.]
National Association of College and University Business Officers. 1110 Vermont Avenue NW Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 800-462-4916; Tel: 202-861-2500; Fax: 202-861-2583; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Association of College and University Business Officers
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Higher Education Act 1980