assessment and planning


the assessment and planning department supports the mission, values and strategic goals of the university by providing internal and external constituents with timely and reliable information regarding the institution’s operations and performance.  


the major goals of the assessment and planning department are to:

  • assess and document the university’s progress in achieving its short and long term strategic goals and effectively communicate accomplishments to its various constituencies
  • support academic and administrative department heads in assessing and documenting the results of their activities and in identifying opportunities for continuous improvement
  • support on-going decision making and resource allocation processes throughout the university
  • meet the data reporting requirements of outside entities
  • help ensure that the university complies with all applicable rules, regulations and laws


to achieve its goals, the assessment and planning department (apd) carries out the following activities:

strategic planning

apd develops, monitors and updates the university’s strategic plan.   apd also maintains a variety of metrics that help the university’s senior leadership to monitor the institution’s performance against short and long term objectives.


apd leads the university’s assessment activities by providing advisory, technical, and financial resources to faculty and administrators who are directly engaged in the assessment process.  apd also maintains information systems that enable the university’s academic and administrative leadership to effectively monitor assessment results.  in addition, apd supports the university’s budget committee by providing a formal review of resource allocation requests that originate in academic and administrative departments.

institutional research

apd prepares data and other reports at the behest of a wide variety of external organizations, including accrediting bodies, governmental agencies, membership associations and other entities.   apd also provides data to the university’s senior leadership as well as to academic and administrative department heads.   this data is used for assessment, planning, resource allocation and general management purposes. 


apd supports university-wide efforts to respond to, and fully comply with, all rules, regulations, statutes and laws that apply to the institution’s activities and operations.  apd monitors new requirements, manages reporting and disclosures, provides employee information and training, and assists senior leadership in responding to compliance-related inquiries.


sheila richter

Ms. Richter is a full-time member of the assessment & Planning staff.  As the Director of institutional research, Sheila oversees activities related to the University’s data reporting requirements to external agencies and organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and others.  She also manages internal research and data reporting.  Sheila holds a bachelor’s degree from Mercyhurst University.

amy danzer

Ms. Danzer is a full-time member of the Assessment & Planning staff.  As Director of assessment, Amy oversees activities related to the University’s academic accreditations, including those associated with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.  Amy also coordinates internal survey research activities and supports the University’s institutional effectiveness (assessment) function.  She earned a MA degree from Princeton University.

dr. dyan jones

Dr. Jones is part time member of the staff assessment & Planning staff.   She oversees activities related to the assessment of the Mercyhurst Core curriculum as well as the University’s administrative functions.   Dr. Jones is an Assistant Professor of Physics.  She holds a PhD from Kansas State University.

jeanette britt

Ms. Britt is a part time member of the assessment & Planning staff.  She also serves the University as Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice President for strategic planning.  Ms. Britt assists the department in managing its technology resources in support of assessment and planning activities.   A Mercyhurst alum, she holds an MBA degree from Gannon University.

atty. meredith bollheimer

Attorney Bollheimer is a part time member of the assessment & Planning staff.  She serves the University as its Chief compliance Officer and is an Assistant Professor of Business / Organizational Leadership.  She earned her JD degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

guiding principles

a culture of assessment is dependent upon both internal and external support for and validation of the process.  these principles guide the assessment process and provide the basis for the evaluation of teaching, activities, and services that will lead to institutional decision making regarding the investment of resources, development of the curriculum, and future life of mercyhurst university.

  1. assessment is rooted in our expression of the mission and core values
  2. the ultimate goal of assessment is the improvement of student learning:  curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular
  3. the commitment to assessment must be owned by everyone from the board of trustees to the president to all faculty, administrators, and employees
  4. resources must be available to facilitate the assessment process
  5. assessment must be cost effective both in terms of money spent and time allocated
  6. assessment can and should be integrated into the life of the university, and as such, conducted on multiple levels - at the student, program or department, and institutional levels
  7. assessment at the course and academic program level must be led by the faculty with the support from administration and staff
  8. assessment is an ongoing cyclical activity that includes quantitative and qualitative and mixed methods.
  9. the results of assessment should be shared with the appropriate stakeholders and should guide decision-making