Harvey P. Weingarten – Tooting Our Own Horn

HEQCO is an organization built on the principles of inquiry, performance assessment, evidence and research.  So, it seemed only appropriate that we subject our own performance to a critical review and rigorous evaluation by an informed outsider.

To that end, we commissioned an outside expert to review HEQCO.  The reviewer selected was Lorne Whitehead, an internationally recognized expert on higher education research, particularly on matters related to innovative and effective modes of teaching and learning and, more generally, on quality issues in postsecondary education.  Dr. Whitehead is a former Provost and Vice-President Academic at UBC and currently UBC’s Leader in Education Innovation and a Visiting Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

We asked Dr. Whitehead to address four questions in his review:

  • In light of HEQCO’s mandate as identified in the HEQCO Act, how would you assess (i) the scope and quality of the research and publications being conducted and (ii) the dissemination of the research and policy work?
  • Overall, how well has HEQCO fulfilled its mandate to the government and public as identified in the HEQCO Act?
  • How would you assess HEQCO’s future plans as reflected in the 2011-2012 Research Plan and Communications Strategy?
  • Are there strategic opportunities or challenges for HEQCO in the future in light of the changing postsecondary environment in Ontario, nationally and internationally and what should HEQCO do to seize these opportunities or meet these challenges?

I recognize that it is not considered fashionable in academic circles to toot one’s own horn.  Rather, the culture of the Academy is to be a little embarrassed to advertise nice things that people have said about you.   I am going to violate this charming (but often counter-productive) tradition.

We were delighted by Dr. Whitehead’s review.  While not sparing us some appropriate criticisms and recommendations for improvement, the review overall is quite laudatory and complimentary of HEQCO and its work to date.  Dr. Whitehead notes that the “quality of the research…and its communication are superb.”  Based on the consultations he conducted, he also concluded that HEQCO “is performing at the top level of international excellence,” “is admired and trusted,” that it is “…accepted as the go-to source for independent, credible information about higher education in Ontario,” and that it “offers great value to the Ministry.”

I invite you to read Dr. Whitehead’s full review.

We think we add value to the discussions and decisions made in the Ontario higher education sector.  It is comforting and reinforcing to see that an outside expert agrees with our self-evaluation.  We take this review as motivation to work even harder and more collaboratively with our colleagues, both within and outside Ontario, to help improve access, quality and accessibility of higher education.

Feel free to comment about HEQCO, our activities or Dr. Whitehead’s review.

Thanks for reading.

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