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Our Team

Peter Ewell

Senior Consultant


Peter Ewell is a Senior Consultant at NCHEMS. A member of the staff since 1981, he served as President for one year, Vice President of the Center for 10 years, and as a Senior Associate prior to that. Dr. Ewell’s work focuses on assessing institutional effectiveness and student learning and involves both research and direct consulting with institutions and state systems on collecting and using assessment information in planning, evaluation, and budgeting. He has directed many projects on this topic, including initiatives funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the National Institute for Education, The Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education, The Spencer Foundation, Lumina Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. In addition, he has consulted with over 425 colleges and universities and twenty-seven state systems of higher education on topics including assessment, program review, accreditation, and student retention. His international consulting on quality assurance includes work in the U.K., Chile, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Dubai, and with the OECD. He has also been actively involved in NCHEMS work on designing longitudinal student databases and other academic management information tools.

Dr. Ewell has authored or co-authored eight books and numerous articles on the topic of improving undergraduate instruction through the assessment of student outcomes. He is one of the four principal authors of the Lumina Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP). In addition, he has prepared commissioned papers for many agencies, including the Study Group on the Conditions of Excellence in American Higher Education (authors of the report Involvement in Learning), the Education Commission of the States, the National Governors’ Association, the National Conference of State Legislators, and the National Center for Public Policy in Higher Education. Widely sought as a speaker on assessment and quality assurance, in 1985 he gave the keynote address for the first national conference on Assessment in American Higher Education and has since spoken widely on this topic at both national and international conferences. In 1998 he led the design team that created the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and chaired its National Advisory Board for many years, as well as chairing the National Advisory Board of the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE).

Prior to joining NCHEMS, Dr. Ewell was Coordinator for Long-Range Planning at Governors State University.  In addition to consulting in higher education, Dr. Ewell has been involved in program evaluation, organizational development and strategic planning for a variety of non-profit and arts organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts and six state arts agencies. In 1981 he received the National Theater Association award for Theory and Criticism.

Education & Training

Ewell is a graduate of Haverford College and received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University.

Outside Interests

Ewell and his wife travel frequently overseas, and they are big fans of cruising, having made five transatlantic crossings and numerous other multi-week cruises.  Ewell is very interested in maritime history, especially the Second World War, and does extensive reading in that field in addition to collecting 1/1250 scale ship models.

Why I Work With NCHEMS

I was trained as an academic and was on the faculty at the University of Chicago for a few years, but NCHEMS recruited me to direct a Kellogg-funded project on student outcomes.  After a couple of years, I was sufficiently interested to want to stay permanently—a decision I never regretted.  Part of the reason is the variety of the work and the sense of doing good for a wide range of colleges and universities.  Part of this is that I have had (and still have) many good colleagues to work with.