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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Perlman named associate provost

Published: February 11, 2011
Section: Front Page

Professor Dan Perlman (BIOL) has been named an associate provost with responsibility for the assessment of student learning, a portfolio that includes supervision of university-wide departmental and other office goals, by outgoing Provost Marty Krauss. His appointment to the one-year renewable term, which will overlap with Krauss’ successor to be named this spring, will begin March 1.

“I will be supporting efforts throughout the university to set learning goals and assess progress toward those goals,” Perlman said in a statement to The Hoot, adding that his “efforts will include both academic programs and co-curricular programs.”

Perlman has been a member of Krauss’ committee on student assessment since its beginning in 2006, and will continue in the new administrative role on a half-time basis. Thus Perlman will continue to teach two courses per year and, via this arrangement, plans to maintain the connection with students that teaching requires to better his administrative responsibilities.

“I think this will be an excellent balance,” he wrote. “It will allow me to continue working closely with students while offering a good amount of time to focus on assessment issues.”

Those issues include revising time frames for student assessment; perhaps moving away from a standard exclusively midterm/end of term test and paper schedule into a more varied one.

“I see assessment as encompassing a wide variety of activities over a very large range of time scales,” Perlman said. “While many of us in colleges and universities focus on end-of-semester assessments, such as term papers and final exams, I believe that many valuable types of assessment occur in both shorter and longer time frames.”

Perlman said that assessment concerns encompass questions about actual skills gained from classes, and not just by semester but even by each session; teachers asking the same questions to better their delivery of knowledge; particular major plans and their objectives for both career and general learning; even questions about matching the learning alumni gained during their time at Brandeis.

The assessment theme will be centered on the idea of “Learning That Lasts,” according to Perlman, taking into account the learning students will need long after they graduate from Brandeis.

Perlman, when working on the provost’s committee, was involved in the development of the university-wide learning goals, unveiled last year and prominently displayed in the Shapiro Student Center.

The committee also invited the makers of a national study on assessment from Wabash College, a private liberal arts college for men in Indiana, who visited the campus last semester. Brandeis was ranked by the Wabash study on issues of diversity, faculty-student engagement and other measures to judge assessment both inside and outside of the classroom.

Perlman’s appointment will allow the next provost, who is expected to be named by or even before April, to have continuity since the committee’s date of 2006 and plans and studies like this since that time.