Always called to a life of helping others, Dr. Vince Erario, Director of Institutional Effectiveness Planning and Research at Life University, found himself as an “accidental academic.” Kicking off his career with nearly three decades of service as a chiropractor, Vince ventured into politics, quality assurance, and clinical work.
Dr. Erario joined us to discuss his non-traditional path into accreditation and his lifelong journey of learning and helping others.
Join us as we discuss how:
- Varying backgrounds of assessment and accreditation leaders contribute to the profession
- Assessment and accreditation leaders partner together to best tell the institution’s story
- Experiences from being a peer reviewer inform one’s approach to this work
How varying backgrounds of leaders contribute to the profession
Dr. Vince Erario never planned on being in academia. In fact, before entering the world of accreditation, he was a successful chiropractor for 27 years. His plans had to change when he injured his wrist and could no longer practice his profession. Instead of retiring, Dr. Erario asked himself a pressing question: How can I still fulfill my drive to help others?
While searching for an answer, he found Life University and applied to a Director of Quality Assurance position within their substantial chiropractic program.
“The responsibilities lie around documentation and patient records, which is what I did every day in my practice,” Dr. Erario explains. “Does your documentation rise to the level that supports the billing and the claims that you’re making? If it does, you’ll get paid; if it doesn’t, you don’t. The same is true for accreditation.”
Drawing from his background in chiropractic care, Dr. Erario improved their processes around documentation and accreditation with expert attention. His work earned him a promotion to Director of Institutional Effectiveness, where he would continue to apply his expertise to creating efficient systems.
How assessment and accreditation leaders partner to tell institutional stories
Assessment is not a one-and-done process — it’s one full of constant improvement and reinvention. Accreditation standards are an ongoing pursuit that requires measuring goals and leveraging data for future cases.
Dr. Erario shares part of the rubric used as a guide during an assessment, a series of critical questions:
- Do they have a mission?
- Do they have goals?
- Are all objectives laid out comprehensively?
- How will we know if they hit a target?
The outcome all depends on how well an institution tells its story. If the story is muddied, so are the goals, and, as a result, it’s unclear how the institution is doing overall.
“You’re not writing these reports for your own understanding; you already know it,” Dr. Erario explains. “You have to write it so somebody else understands it.”
Ultimately, a reviewer will read the reports and use them to answer the question: Did the institution write goals and objectives, measure the extent to which they have met them and use that information to make improvements?
Writing an unambiguous story is vital to unlocking improvements and, ultimately, moving forward in success.
How the director of institutional effectiveness and accreditation liaison support each other
Dr. Erario works closely with Life University’s Accreditation Liaison to ensure the best possible results, which entails:
- Intentional documentation: Dr. Erario is responsible for tracking the submission and review of 52 annual reports. Program assessment documentation drives much of the process.
- Training newcomers: Bringing new colleagues into the fold and getting them up to speed is a critical part of the process. Assessing is different from teaching and takes specific training.
- Incorporating feedback: Gathering feedback and incorporating it appropriately supports a smooth assessment culture and must be a priority for the good of future assessments.
Teamwork is essential for accreditation success on all sides.
“Listening and networking with other individuals involved in assessment — the networking opportunities at the sax conferences — can’t be replaced,” Dr. Erario says.
When everyone shares expertise, strategies, and feedback, the positive effects are numerous for assessment leaders, institutions, and students.