Academic Councils


The Academic Councils enable the CCCU to better serve its members by assembling academic experts who can provide guidance, host events, and share best practices in particular areas of importance to Christian higher education.

Christian Higher Education Research Council

As Christian colleges and universities seek to meet the challenges of a changing cultural and political landscape, it is crucial that they are guided by sound research. Individually, many of the institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities perform regular and reliable internal research. As a collaborative association, however, Christian colleges and universities are missing an opportunity to benefit collectively from a coordinated and integrated approach to research. Moreover, CCCU institutions and the Council’s leadership in Washington, D.C. need more complete and empirical data with which to construct a compelling narrative about the benefits and value of Christian education. The Christian Higher Education Research Council is being established to meet those needs.

The Christian Higher Education Research Council will guide the CCCU and its institutions in conducting, interpreting, and disseminating research that fosters institutional improvement and supports an accurate and compelling narrative regarding Christian higher education in the U.S.  Specifically, the Council will:

    1. Guide our institutions in the coordination, collection, and use of benchmarking data that will empower them in data-driven decision-making and improvement through our Collaborative Assessment Project (CAP).
    2. Serve as a steering committee connecting researchers on Christian higher education to topics of strategic interest to our members.
    3. Assist the CCCU in the interpretation and dissemination of data for both internal audiences (for institutional improvement) and external constituencies (to build a compelling narrative regarding the public narrative of Christian higher education).

The Council will consist of 6-8 members from key positions at CCCU institutions, all of whom have significant experience and expertise in Christian higher education research.  Proposed members include:

  • Laurie Schreiner, Chair of the Higher Education Department, Azusa Pacific University (Council chair)
  • Burt Burleson, Dean of Spiritual Life, Baylor University
  • Tom Dahlstrom, Director of Institutional Research, Eastern University
  • Jessica Daniels, Associate Professor, Doctor of Leadership in Higher Education, Bethel University
  • Kris Hansen-Kieffer, Vice Provost and Dean of Students, Messiah College
  • Scott Moats, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Crown College
  • Aida Ramos, Assistant Professor of Sociology/Student Success Coordinator, George Fox University
  • Todd Ream, Professor of Higher Education, Taylor University
  • Stan Rosenberg, Vice President for Research and Scholarship, CCCU
  • Nita Stemmler, Program and Research Consultant, CCCU (CCCU liaison)

The Collaborative Assessment Project (CAP) orients CCCU members around a common set of campus assessments that help us provide empirical evidence that Christian higher education is indeed a significant and valuable enterprise. CAP’s common assessments provide sector norms for institutional benchmarking, while its cyclical nature empowers participating schools to examine their institutional effectiveness over time through longitudinal data analysis.

For more information, please visit the CAP website pages.

Research Requests

The Christian Higher Education Research Council functions as a steering committee connecting researchers on Christian higher education to topics of strategic interest to our members. Researchers who wish to collect new data from CCCU member or affiliate institutions or access archived CCCU data are expected to follow the guidelines outlined in the Policy for Approval of Research Requests and to complete the Request to Conduct Research form.

The Christian Higher Education Research Council functions as a steering committee connecting researchers on Christian higher education to topics of strategic interest to our members. Researchers who wish to collect new data from CCCU member or affiliate institutions or access archived CCCU data are expected to:

  1. Complete an online request form, available on the CCCU website.  Requests will be considered by the Research Council on a rolling basis throughout the year.
  2. Sign an MOU that assures the Research Council of the ethical conduct of the research, the de-identification of all data before publication, and the researcher’s commitment to share the de-identified raw data and summary results of the study with the Research Council before publication.

Once a request for research approval is received by the Research Council Chair, the following process occurs:

  1. The Chair will review the request and assign a team of three members of the Research Council to make a recommendation to the full council.
  2. A rotating team of three Research Council members will review proposals, with each team consisting of (a) someone familiar with the methodology in the proposal, (b) someone familiar with the topic of the proposal, and (c) someone familiar with the proposed sample or audience (e.g., if Chief Academic Officers will be surveyed, a member familiar with the demands of CAOs will be on the team; if students will be surveyed, a member familiar with student issues will be on the team, etc.)
  3. The team will make a recommendation to the Chair for disposition of the request.  The Chair will then email the recommendation to all Research Council members for a vote.
  4. If any member of the Research Council is an advisor, committee member, colleague, or supervisor of the researcher requesting approval, that member may speak into the recommendation and answer questions, but must recuse himself or herself from the voting process.  If the vote is in person or on a conference call, the recused member will leave the room or the call before the vote is taken.  If the vote is online, the recused member will not be included in the emails requesting a vote.  If the Chair is the recused member, Rick Ostrander will facilitate the voting process.
  5. Upon a favorable vote to approve the study, the Chair will forward the approval to Rick Ostrander for CCCU Cabinet action within 10 business days or the next Cabinet meeting.
  6. Rick Ostrander will inform the researcher of the final decision in writing.
The criteria by which the Research Council will approve research requests is as follows:
  1. Is the data collected going to benefit our individual member schools and will the data help the Research Council or the CCCU serve its members better?
  2. Is the topic related to one of the CCCU’s research priorities (see below)?
  3. Is the research design and sampling procedure appropriate and of high quality?
  4. How many requests have been already approved this year that will place a burden on a certain subpopulation? (e.g., limiting the number of surveys that go to students or to CAOs or Presidents)
  5. Is the researcher a faculty member or doctoral student at a CCCU member institution or affiliate?  (Priority will be given to CCCU members and affiliates, but requests from non-members will be considered in light of the other criteria.)

Christian Higher Education Research Priorities:

  1. Comprehensive research on student success indicators.
  2. Gathering normative or benchmarking data on student outcomes within the CCCU.
  3. Research on faith development among undergraduates.
  4. Market research (what attracts prospective students to Christian higher education?)
  5. Research on the recruitment, retention, and graduation of students by race/ethnicity and gender.
  6. Research on the recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented students in the CCCU.
  7. Research on factors and practices fostering a more diverse and inclusive campus climate.
  8. Gathering data to make a case for Christian higher education.
  9. Research on retention challenges (first-year programs, sophomore slump, transfers, etc.)
  10.  Information on faith integration policies, practices, and assessment.
  11. Identifying and sharing “best practices” among the CCCU membership.
  12. Providing web-based collective research data on the CCCU for institutions to access as they wish.

Council for Collaboration in Doctoral Education

Doctoral education is growing in the CCCU. At least forty CCCU member schools now offer at least one doctoral program, and within these schools, there are over ninety doctoral programs offered. Many program directors, however, find challenges in helping their institutions understand the unique nature and needs of doctoral-level education. In September, 2015, the first CCCU doctoral education forum, “Doctoral Programs in the CCCU: Conversation and Collaboration,” was held at Azusa Pacific University. The event was developed by doctoral program directors from three CCCU member schools (APU, Biola, and Trinity International). Those who attended expressed strong support for seeing the interaction continue, both through future forums and resource sharing. This has led to our proposal to establish a new CCCU Council for Collaboration in Doctoral Education.

For more information and resources, please visit the Resource Portal.

The purpose of the Council for Collaboration in Doctoral Education will be to foster the development of strong doctoral programs in the CCCU by promoting collaboration among doctoral program directors, doctoral faculty, and those with oversight over doctoral education who wish to benefit from networking with their peers.  Specifically, the Council will:

  1. Facilitate doctoral program directors and faculty learning from one another regarding the common challenges faced in developing, sustaining, and growing strong doctoral programs.
  2. Identify and disseminate information about best practices in doctoral programs, both administrative and educational, through a listserv and networking conferences.
  3. Promote collaboration with one another on research about doctoral education and doctoral students in the CCCU, in order to better inform our campus leaders and the broader academic community (in partnership with the Christian Higher Education Research Council).

A group of five doctoral program directors and one CCCU liaison (Senior Liaison, Stan Rosenberg) will serve on the Council. Membership will consist of experienced doctoral program directors who bring a balance in several areas, including degree programs, disciplines of study, geographical region, gender, and race/ethnicity.  Dr. Kevin Lawson from Biola University will serve as the chair.  Initial work will consist of:

  1. Clarify the purpose and vision for collaboration among CCCU doctoral programs.
  2. Develop a strategy for activities to help achieve that purpose and vision.
  3. Develop a model for an ongoing Council, taking into account the optimal size for the group, schedule and facilitation of Council meetings, length of service by group members, budgetary needs and revenue sources for scheduled events, and resources available.
  4. Recruit volunteers among CCCU doctoral programs to carry out the identified activities for effective networking and collaboration (e.g., planning and hosting biennial conferences, developing a listserv, reviewing recent publications on doctoral education issues relevant to CCCU member schools, sharing best practices and resources).
  • Kevin Lawson (Chair), Professor of Educational Studies, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, CA
  • Heewon Chang, Professor & Chair, PhD in Organizational Leadership, Eastern University, PA
  • James Flynn, Associate Dean of Operations & Teaching; Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Regent University, VA
  • Anita Henck, Dean and Professor, School of Education, Azusa Pacific University, CA
  • Stan Rosenberg, Vice President for Research and Scholarship, CCCU
  • Benjamin Pyykkonen, Associate Professor; Director, Psychology Doctoral Program, Wheaton College, IL
  • Laurie Schreiner, Professor and Chair Department of Higher Education, Azusa Pacific University, CA
  • Nita Stemmler, Program and Research Consultant, CCCU (CCCU administrator)