Laurie Dodge earns innovation honor from Washington Monthly

August 29, 2016
Vice Chancellor of Institutional Assessment and Planning Laurie Dodge

Vice Chancellor of Institutional Assessment and Planning Laurie Dodge

Vice Chancellor Laurie Dodge is one of “The Sixteen Most Innovative People in Higher Education,” as named in this month’s edition of the Washington Monthly.

Dodge’s work with adult students, most recently as part of the team creating the Brandman MyPath  competency-based education platform, as well as her national role as chairman of the board of directors for the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), earned her the recognition.

“Brandman University is fortunate to have Dr. Dodge to move the cause of competency-based education forward. I congratulate her and the entire Brandman MyPath ™ team for this well-deserved recognition,” said Brandman Chancellor Gary Brahm.

Dodge, whose career includes a background in school psychology and assessment, said Brandman MyPath  continues the university’s history of innovation.

Dodge was part of the Dean’s Council led by Provost Charles Bullock that began looking at trends in higher education. Competency-based education first emerged as an idea in the 1970s. Technology advancements made it worth reconsidering.

“We knew how to be successful with adult learners,” said Dodge. The goal was to reach students who needed even more flexibility and cost savings to complete their degrees.

At the same time, Brandman was working to create its new program, Dodge joined the national conversation as a member of C-BEN, which comprises 30 institutions and four university systems.

By sharing information, the 85 campuses that are deep in the work of competency-based education, can have all of them “holding up the quality flag,” said Dodge. “It’s important that institutions are building quality, relevant competency-based programs and that we’re not making missteps.”

Creating Brandman MyPath  hasn’t been without challenges. On the positive side, Dodge said, “It fit in our institutional culture, faculty were on board and excited and getting the competencies written.” The bigger challenges came with building the platform, integrating student information systems.

Part of that stems balancing innovation with existing regulations, she said. “They (the Department of Education) want to assure we’re doing what’s best for students.

“I think the biggest success is that competency-based education offers an opportunity for students to achieve their credentials and degrees in an affordable way and that the degree shows evidence of student learning and is relevant. In today’s world, students are asking those questions, ‘Is it worth the money? Is it worth the time?’ This approach allows that.”

Washington Monthly chose to honor higher education innovators because “One of the best ways we can think of to empower those still struggling to create change is to publicize the work of those who are already succeeding.”

In addition to Dodge, the magazine highlighted work being done at institutions such as Stanford and the University of Texas, as well as organizations such as New America.

Karen Kalil contributed to this report.

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