Our Approach: Integrity, Ethics, Trust

Integrity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of everything we do. We hold all members of the NCU community to the highest ethical standards of professional and academic conduct, as well as the rules and regulations of U.S. higher education. Our regional and programmatic accreditations ensure students receive a quality education in their chosen program at NCU.

NCU Viewbook
Higher Degrees

Graduate Culture and Faculty Research

Northcentral University is committed to our core pillar of ‘Graduate Culture’ through supporting innovation in research and scholarly contributions to society from faculty, staff, and students (current and alumni). To maintain our commitment to a graduate culture, NCU offers a number of research funding opportunities and honoraria’s. These include Faculty Research Awards (FRAs) as well as honoraria funds to recognize faculty, staff, and student research publications, poster sessions, and conference presentations.

Our faculty’s commitment to quality is evident through the over 40 presentations accepted for the WASC Annual Resource Conference since 2017.

Northcentral University is a recipient of the 2020 Delphi Award, given by the USC Pullias Center for Higher Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. The award recognizes institutions that use research and data to better support faculty off the tenure track while helping create new faculty models for postsecondary institutions to adopt.

Northcentral University’s Strategic Plan

NCU: On the Move is a reflection of Northcentral University today. Whether it’s moving our headquarters, enhancing our technology, supporting our students, or helping to fund faculty research, NCU is moving ahead. Our four strategies: Personalization, Student Completion, Diversification, and Graduate Culture, hold the promise of a bright future for our institution and its many constituents. We are excited to pursue these strategies with you, and look forward to great accomplishments in the years ahead.

View Strategic Plan

2020 WASC Presentations

Erika Prager
Larry Hughes

David Wade
Marie Bakari
Shellie Rebman
Robin Butler
Stephanie Menefee

Linda Bloomberg
Ashley Babcock
Linda Cummins

Bettina Shapira
Linda Bloomberg
Yulia Watters

Barbara Hall
Erika Prager
Miranda Regnitz

Patricia Postanowicz
Katie Buvoltz

Annabelle Goodwin
Laurie Wellner
Kristi Harrison

Annabelle Goodwin

Bettina Shapira
Elaine Willerton
Yulia Watters

Heather Hussey
Elaine Willerton

Brandon Lyons
Rachel Butterfras
Elaine Willerton

Annabelle Goodwin
John Fulginiti

Jacqueline Rogers

Wittney Jones
Ismaila Ramon

Wittney Jones
Ismaila Ramon
Robert Clegg

Nick Redell
Claire DeMarco
Chelsea Young

Tara Lehan
Ray Rodriguez
Heather Hussey

Lisa Teeter
Brandon Lyons
Maria Rodriguez
Pam MacDonald

Lisa Teeter
Patricia Postanowicz

Steven Ziemba
Darren Adamson,
Ari Hurwitz
Jenelle Dembsey

2019 WASC Presentations

If Ed.D. degrees are leadership-based and practitioner-focused, how does the dissertation contribute toward this end? Intending to differentiate the Ed.D. and Ph.D., we will share our redesigned Ed.D. including coursework and the Dissertation in Practice. This three-chapter dissertation model for solving an applied problem is applicable to other practitioner based doctoral programs.

Andy Riggle, Dean, School of Education
Laurie Wellner, Assistant Dean, School of Education
Erika Prager, Director of Assessment, School of Education
Barbara Hall, Director of Curriculum, School of Education

We know student engagement is important, but in an online environment it can be hard to get students on-board. What happens when we hand over the keys and allow students to drive engagement? We will discuss a successful student driven engagement initiative and share strategies for implementation in other contexts.

Brandon Lyons, Academic Operations Manager
Elaine Willerton, Director of Assessment

Facilitating access and responding to the needs of unique learners.

Through presentation and dialogue, you will learn innovative approaches in online education, listen to personal student narratives, explore best practices for engaging students from diverse backgrounds, and you will engage in conversation about your own unique setting as we collectively brainstorm how to best promote inclusive academic environments.

Annabelle Goodwin, Professor
Kristi Harrison, Professor
Mark White, Program Director
Cassandra Lettenberger-Klein, Professor
Darren Adamson, Chair

With the explosive growth of online education, the demands placed on universities and their online students, has reached epic proportions. The Northcentral University Avengers, which is created “by” students “for” students, offers an organic, online peer mentoring (eMentoring) program that builds supportive online communities to improve the overall student experience.

Carthel Towns, Sr. School of Business, Student Advisory Council President
Chelsy Smith Student Advisory Council Member

Building a positive culture of assessment is not for the faint of heart. Herein lies the tale of one assessment committee: a battled and bruised bunch, feared and disdained University-wide. We will discuss stakeholder input, actions taken to turn meetings around and boost morale, and strategies for similar situations.

Elaine Willerton, Director of Assessment
Heather Hussey Director of Institutional Assessment

This session will allow participants to understand the appropriate use and implementation of authentic assignments in online programs seeking accreditation and where competency attainment must be demonstrated. Participants will learn why authentic assignments are essential to skill development and how to create assignments that mirror experiences of traditional programs.

Laurie Shanderson Dean, School of Health Sciences
Wittney Jones, Program Director

Defining and developing leadership are challenging depending on the discipline and the attainment of various competencies. Collaborative efforts for a cross-discipline theoretical foundation will be explored to strengthen the interprofessional communications and values intrinsic to healthcare. This presentation will generate inquiry and shared ideas for a new leadership approach.

Wittney Jones, HA Program Director
Judy Akin Palmer, Nursing Program Director

As institutions transition to data driven decision-making, universities are reconsidering the traditional metrics associated with student success, and focusing on data that drives day to day decisions. This session will address how academic administrators can be engaged in the identification, design, and development of actionable analytics.

Bonnie Ruddock Director, Reporting and Data Analytics
Robert Sapp Dean, School of Technology

2018 WASC Presentations

Leveraging Instructional Design Effectively

The monotone one-way university lecture has been replaced with instruction that is informative, engaging and applicable. This presentation explores how leveraging the skills of instructional designers with faculty expertise can invigorate both learner and faculty and add another layer of instruction to any course regardless of setting.

Jeannine Klein, Director of University Curriculum
Brian Endfinger, Senior Instructional Design
Cari Crumly, Senior Instructional Designer

Pioneering Future Paths for Graduate Internship Programs Through Distance-Based Education

Rapid advancements in technology have allowed online graduate programs to develop competitive internship programs spanning the nation and world. Presenters will share lessons learned in overcoming barriers to serving diverse populations, and developing, managing, and enhancing both clinical and non-clinical internship programs in the social sciences (MFT, MSW, and Psychology).

James Billings, Dean
Branden Henline, Director of Field Placement
Bettina Shapira, Department Chair
Deborah Circo, Program Director

Unique Opportunities to Promote Inclusive Excellence in Online Higher Education

To meet students’ needs and promote inclusion in institutions of higher education, it is critical that meaningful efforts are made to ensure that the faculty reflects the diversity of students. Characteristics that are unique to online education can allow for the promotion of inclusive excellence, equity, and access among faculty.

Tara Lehan, Director, Learning Resources
Theresa Meeks, Associate Director, Learning Resources

Authentic Assessment: Getting Students to Show What They Know

Authentic assessment provides students multiple ways to learn and demonstrate how they have learned. Northcentral University instructional designers have created engaging and authentic assessment-based curriculum that helps students to become more informed and engaged in their learning, as well as improve their communication and critical thinking skills.

Jeannine Klein, Director of University Curriculum
Brian Endfinger, Senior Instructional Designer
Cari Crumly, Senior Instructional Designer

Connecting with Adjunct Faculty: Effective Strategies for Increasing Engagement

It is challenging to provide support for adjunct faculty and to encourage a connection to the university. In this session, we will describe strategies for increasing adjunct faculty engagement centered on support, development, and involvement in governance and curriculum development. Findings regarding effectiveness of these strategies will be presented.

Mindi Mull, Associate Director of Faculty Support and Engagement
Darren Adamson, Department Chair
Yulia Watters, Director of Curriculum Development

A powerful data model combines assessment data and learner metrics from a variety of sources to ensure accountability and continuous improvement. This poster session will provide examples of learner analytics used to track dissertation progression. Samples of data visualization appropriate to present to various stakeholders will be shared.

Jennifer Smolka, Faculty
Katja Walton, Academic Operations Manager

Many academic institutions struggle with how to transfer face-to-face course content to online education while maintaining appropriate seat time in a virtual learning environment. The Northcentral University Instructional Design (ID) team has developed a seat time calculator that quantifies student time investment on course activities and preparatory work.

Jeannine Klein, Director of University Curriculum

Adhering to the Teaching Through Engagement model helps ensure Northcentral University faculty and student engagement, and promotes success in the online environment. The annual review process addresses multiple aspects of faculty performance, and a rubric is used to examine different aspects of instructional strategies and multimodal methods of engagement. The rubric-driven feedback is provided to each faculty member for purposes of self-assessment and ongoing improvement. This rubric may have applicability in other higher education institutions that have a strong focus on promoting and ensuring sustained engagement and performance accountability.

Linda Dale Bloomberg, Associate Director Faculty Support and Development, School of Education
Georgia Grantham, Associate Director Faculty Support and Development, School of Business

Student engagement has become a magical elixir for issues ranging from student learning to retention. However, emerging research has demonstrated that student and faculty perceptions of effective engagement strategies are often divergent. This presentation looks at narrowing that divide by tailoring engagement strategies to student needs and desires.

Brandon Lyons, Academic Operations Manager
Elaine Willerton, Director of Assessment

Determining what students need to learn can be challenging. Northcentral University employs concept mapping for program design to ensure learning goals are appropriately introduced in coursework before courses are created. The team uses an at-a-glance mapping tool to assess whether student learning is accurately scaffolded across a degree program.

Jeannine Klein, Director of University Curriculum

Originally, student and academic affairs were intertwined. As institutions grew, these departments separated, threatening student success through decreased university-wide collaboration towards student learning. We discuss how an academic success center implemented a co-curricular assessment plan and needed to incorporate faculty and their rubrics to better support learning outside the classroom.

Ashley Babcock, Associate Director, Academic Success Center
Tara Lehan, Director, Learning Resources
Heather Hussey, Director, Institutional Assessment

A faculty development plan is a critical component of any university. Professionally trained faculty are able to use their time more effectively and are more apt to adjust to new technologies and andragogical strategies. Learn how to support change initiatives through the design of courses on change management for leaders, faculty and front-line staff. Come discuss the role of professional development during this time of rapid, continuous change.

Kelley Walters, Senior Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
Chelsea Young, Associate Director, Center for Teaching and Learning

Why? We ask this question throughout our lives, including as busy students. Transparent pedagogy design offers a way to demonstrate to students a return on their investments of time and cognitive resources and to answer the question - asked aloud or silently - “why are we doing THIS and doing this NOW?”

Barbara Hall, Director of Curriculum

A university’s mission statement guides internal stakeholders and informs external stakeholders. However, most faculty, staff, and students do not know their university’s mission statement. Instead, it is often window dressing rather than a strategic expression. We describe two mission revision processes (active vs. passive) and the outcomes of each.

Heather Hussey, Director of Assessment
Raymond Rodriguez, Vice President, Academic Operations

2017 WASC Presentations

Doctoral student completion - particularly at the dissertation stage - is an ongoing challenge in higher education. Accreditors and regulators are encouraging institutions to create sustainable solutions that will increase student completion while maintaining rigor and quality. Northcentral University has created a dissertation accountability model designed to increase doctoral student completion.

PATRICIA HENRY, Associate Dean, Graduate School

Participants will engage in a conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion as it relates to higher education in the online platform. We will explore issues including retention, engagement, curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy as we work together to strengthen student engagement, respect, and global citizenry.

ANNABELLE GOODWIN, Foundations Faculty, Northcentral University
MELISSA SLEDGE, Department Manager, Northcentral University
AARON BRUCE, Chief Diversity Officer, San Diego State University
NEWTON MILLER, Chair Dept. of Ed Studies, Ashford University

What separates OK virtual learning from great virtual learning? Program design! Good design is what drives an interactive, facilitated, virtual learning experience that dazzles participants. If you want to create collaborative virtual training sessions that participants clamor to attend, then join the speakers to explore the design techniques used by the best virtual facilitators.

KELLEY WALTERS, Director for the Center of Teaching and Learning
CHELSEA YOUNG, Academic Trainer

Ghost and other Phantom Student Engagement Initiatives

Student engagement at an online university that delivers all courses in a one-to-one modality makes it necessary to develop a variety of proactive approaches. Presenters will share successes and lessons learned, including a Ghost Program, Women’s Business in an Online Book Club.

PETER BEMSKI, Dean of School of Business and Technology Management
MELISSA SLEDGE, Department Manager – SBTM

Darren Adamson, Chair, Department of Marriage and Family Sciences

Heather Hussey, Director of Assessment

Faculty Development in an Online University: A Model to Engage and Motivate Faculty in our One-to-One Teaching Approach

Northcentral University’s School of Education has implemented a comprehensive ongoing faculty development process that provides faculty with training and coaching to enhance their skills in our one-to-one online teaching approach. The presentation includes an overview of the process and an illustration of application to practice.

LINDA BLOOMBERG, Associate Director Faculty Support and Development, School of Education

Northcentral University is a 100% online institution offering bachelor, master and doctoral degrees using a unique one-to-one teaching model. This requires development and ongoing revision of master courses. This symposium focuses on four critical components: faculty and instructional design collaboration, development of engaging activities, incorporating diversity, and calculating course rigor.

JEANNINE KLEIN, Faculty Liaison for University Curriculum
CARI CRUMLY, Senior Instructional Designer
BRIAN ENDFINGER, Senior Instructional Designer

PATRICIA HENRY, Associate Dean, Graduate School

The Online Doctor of Education Revisited: Using CPED Principles & WSCUC Best Practices for Program review and Improvement

Northcentral University’s School of Education revised the Doctor of Education degree (EdD) program to align with the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) framework, which allowed for program customization to better serve and prepare educational practitioners to solve the contemporary problems of educational practice. The School of Education utilized WSCUC Best Practices for Program Review for a five-year program review of the EdD to assess quality in the ongoing preparation of doctoral-level educational leaders equipped to solve problems of practice as guided by CPED Principles. Changes resulted in greater levels of reported student success and satisfaction.

Participants will engage in a discussion about diversity, equity, and inclusion as it relates to differentiated online course design. We will explore issues including the need for institutions to support in-depth learner analysis and the design of multiple learning options to enhance student engagement, retention, and learning in the online environment.

NORMA GRASSINI, Instructional Designer

The demand for mental health providers is growing. Offering professional clinical degrees in an online setting presents numerous challenges. This presentation will describe practices in maintaining integrity and accreditation, implementing successful retention initiatives, and using assessment outcomes to guide change and predict future needs in this global and diverse program.           

ELAINE WILLERTON, Director of Assessment, School of Social & Behavioral Sciences
BRANDON LYONS, Doctoral Student, Academic Operations Manager

Online adult education has become a significant segment of higher education._ Quality of student experience is correlated with student satisfaction and academic success._ This presentation reports findings from a qualitative study of graduate students’ experience of faculty efficiency in an online learning environment._ It will include exploration of the differences between student and faculty perspectives on this important measure of educational effectiveness._

DARREN ADAMSON, Chair, Department of Marriage and Family Sciences
YULIA WATTERS, Director of Curriculum Development, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

A common theme among missions of academic institutions includes ensuring student learning; however, some are more successful than others. Particularly, online institutions tend to have higher failure rates. This study examined how an online academic success center closed the loop with their co-curricular learning assessment to improve online student learning.

HEATHER HUSSEY, Director of Assessment
TARA LEHAN, Director, Learning Resources
MICHAEL SHRINER, Dissertation Chair
RAYMOND RODRIGUEZ, Vice President, Academic Operations

Meeting the needs of adults seeking to complete their doctoral degrees in an online environment can be challenging. Through the implementation of face-to-face dissertation retreats Northcentral University has initiated a project to support the needs of working adults from around the world by providing a structured learning environment supporting student success for timely completion.

MOLLY (MIGLIACCIO) Gutterud, Director, Academic Operations
PATRICIA HENRY, Associate Dean, the Graduate School

Northcentral University investigates the value of a degree using various methods with students indicating positive outcomes and strong value. Outcomes include working in field, salary increases, promotions, professional credibility, confidence, and recognition. NCU uses findings for curriculum and policy innovations, program development, continuous improvement, and maintaining quality and institutional effectiveness.

JOHN FULGINITI , Director of Institutional Research, Surveys and Analytics
NICK REDELL, Associate Director of Institutional Research Office of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness