Symposium for Provosts: Evaluating, Optimizing, and Managing the Academic Program Portfolio

Tuesday, March 22, 2022 to Wednesday, March 23, 2022
AASCU Offices, Washington, D.C.

About the Conference

AASCU’s Provost Symposium on best practices in academic program evaluation and management will be a highly interactive opportunity to work with your peers and learn best practices, including how to evaluate markets, margins, academics, and mission to identify high-potential programs. We will then simulate data-informed approaches to the ongoing management of your academic program portfolio. Each session will open with an expert speaker, followed by guided workshops that teach you how to use the best available data and analysis to evaluate and manage academic programs.

Register Online

Tuesday, March 22

12 p.m. ET

Lunch (optional)

1 p.m. ET

Welcome Remarks & Keynote

1:30 p.m. ET

Module 1: Program Demand
Module 2: Competitive Intensity
Module 3: Brand and Value Proposition

3 p.m. ET


3:45 p.m. ET

Module 4: Program Economics

5 p.m. ET


Wednesday, March 23

8 a.m. ET


8:30 a.m. ET

Module 5: Courses and Opportunities - Efficiency and Unlocking Growth Monies

9:30 a.m. ET


9:45 a.m. ET

Module 6: Benchmarking and Predictive Analytics

10:45 a.m. ET


11 a.m. ET

Module 7: Oversight: Program Review Engagement, Key Metrics, and Integrated Dashboard Management

12:15 p.m. ET


1 p.m. ET

Module 8: Approach and Best Practices for an Integrated Program Portfolio Evaluation Process

2:30 p.m. ET

Module 9: Accreditation and Integrated Program Management

3:30 p.m. ET


3:45 p.m. ET

Takeaways, Roundtable, Q & A

4:30 p.m. ET

Symposium Closes

Registration is $279.

Registrants may cancel their in-person registration without penalty through February 28, 2022. Please email Felicia Durham, AASCU registrar, at to cancel. In-person registrations cancelled by March 4, 2022 will receive a 50% refund. Due to pre-program preparations, cancellations received after 5 p.m. ET on Friday, March 11, 2022, including no-shows, are not eligible for refunds.

Refunds for symposium cancellations will be processed by AASCU’s finance department after written cancellation requests are approved. If the original payment was made by credit card, AASCU will refund the credit card within 10 business days. If the original payment was made by check or ACH, please contact Allyson Lords, AASCU’s account coordinator, at for instructions to obtain a refund via ACH.

Felicia Durham
Registrar, leadership development and partnerships


Robert Gray Atkins

Robert Gray Atkins, CEO and Founder, Gray Associates

Bob Atkins leads Gray Associates and the development of Gray’s education industry software and services. He works with Gray’s education clients, consulting with presidents, CAOs, CFOs, and CMOs on program assessment, institutional strategy, pricing, and location selection. Since founding Gray Associates, Atkins has worked with institutions across all sectors of higher education, including the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, University of Cincinnati, Northcentral University, Baker College (Mich.), Bay Path University (Mass.), Massachusetts Bay Community College, the University of Maryland, and Universal Technical Institute (Ariz.), to develop institutional and programmatic growth strategies, identify new markets, and model program and course economics. He led the design of PES+ Markets, PES+ Economics, and Gray’s Program Strategy Workshops. Prior to founding Gray Associates, Atkins worked with corporate clients such as AT&T, American Express, HP, and IBM to develop growth strategies, enter new markets, and build their channel organizations. Atkins is a published author whose articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Sales and Marketing Management, and other publications around the world. His new book, Start, Stop, or Grow? A Data-Informed Approach to Academic Program Evaluation and Management, is coming out this spring. Atkins received an MBA, with honors, from Harvard Business School (Mass.) and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Harvard College (Mass.).

Amy Gort

Amy Gort, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Metropolitan State University (Minn.)

As provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs, Amy Gort facilitates, nurtures, coordinates, and supports the efforts of deans, faculty, staff, and students to meet institutional goals and priorities. She is responsible for strategic leadership to the Academic and Student Affairs division, which includes six colleges (Community Studies and Public Affairs, Individualized Studies, Liberal Arts, Management, Nursing and Health Sciences, and College of Sciences), the School of Urban Education, Library and Information Services, Student Affairs, and the Center for Educational Innovation. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gort lives in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Quinn Koller

Quinn Koller, Director, Academic Quality Assurance, Utah Valley University

Quinn Koller is a creative, resourceful, and innovative problem solver in higher education, with expertise in accreditation (both regional and specialized), academic resource management, assessment of student learning, program review, and data analysis. Koller is the director of academic quality assurance at Utah Valley University. During Koller’s career he has worked as a geographer, librarian, researcher, corporate executive, and regulatory affairs and compliance professional. He has worked on five continents in the for-profit, nonprofit, government, health care, and higher education sectors.

Debbie Landry

Debbie Landry, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Northeastern State University (Okla.)

Debbie Landry earned her bachelor’s degree while serving in the Marine Corps. She was accepted into the Marine Corps Warrant Officer program, selected for officer rank and later was also selected for the Limited Duty Officer program. She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Troy University (Ala.), a master’s degree in NK–8 education from Marymount University (Va.), and a Doctorate of Education from Oklahoma State University. Landry transitioned to teaching and education, serving at public schools in Owasso, Oklahoma, as an early childhood educator and was named Northeast Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2004. In 2004, Landry was also hired as an assistant professor of elementary education at Northeastern State University (Okla.). She was promoted in rank from assistant, to associate, to full professor, and then served as department chair and dean of the College of Education. In 2012, she planned and implemented the first robotics program at the university in the College of Education, which was also the first of its kind in the United States. Landry now serves as Northeastern State University’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Zach Paz

Zach Paz, Partner and Chief Product Officer: Markets, Gray Associates

Zach Paz has developed and led Gray’s data analytic capabilities and tools. He has drawn together more than a dozen industry and proprietary sources to create a comprehensive education industry analytical tool. For leaders in the education industry, Paz has over 10 years of experience working on marketing, location, finance, operations, and program strategies. He also manages Gray’s technology resources, including Gray’s servers, databases, and software platforms. Paz completed an executive leadership program in business analytics from Harvard University (Mass.) in January 2022. He also has a dual bachelor’s degree from Bentley University (Mass.) in global perspectives and corporate finance and accounting.

Steve Probst

Steve Probst, Senior Partner, Gray Associates

Steve Probst has worked with more than 100 higher education institutions, bridging the perspectives of faculty, administrators, trustees, and other stakeholders. He leads engagements with colleges and universities to assess current and identify new academic programs; evaluate potential new geographic markets and campus locations; improve curricular efficiency; and address other strategic, enrollment, and financial challenges. He uses distinctive skills in creating, interpreting, and helping decision-makers use data about student demand, employment outcomes, competition and trends at other institutions, and instructional economics to reach shared understandings of their situations and agree on important decisions. Before joining Gray Associates, Probst consulted in the motor vehicle and transportation industries, and on supply chain management strategy in other industries. This work included engagements in Europe and Asia as well as North America, and it included related work in management training and as an interim executive at client companies. Probst has a master’s in management, with distinction, from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Ill.) and a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Pete Starrett

Pete Starrett, Partner and Chief Product Officer: Economics, Gray Associates

Pete Starrett has worked extensively on marketing, operations, program, and location strategies for both on-ground and online institutions. He has developed a method that Gray’s education clients use to review and assess their programs and campuses across dozens of U.S. markets. This technique is also used for acquisition analysis. Starrett has experience with project management, software application development, and modeling. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Harvard College (Mass.).

Cheryl Stevens

Cheryl Stevens, Former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Western Kentucky University

Dr. Cheryl Stevens served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky from 2019-2021. From 2012-2019, she served as WKU’s dean of the Ogden College of Science and Engineering. She earned a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Tampa and the Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the University of New Orleans. Before coming to WKU, Dr. Stevens served as chair of the department of chemistry at Xavier University of Louisiana and was awarded the Margaret W. Kelly Endowed Professorship in Chemistry. She is particularly interested in issues related to student success, workforce development, and diversity and inclusion. 

Mary Pahissa Upchurch

Mary Pahissa Upchurch, Senior Partner, Gray Associates

Mary Pahissa Upchurch leads Gray’s relationships with educational leaders from a diverse range of institutions representing all sectors and sizes, including statewide systems. Upchurch’s background includes more than 25 years of management experience with AT&T, where she led consumer strategy and key positions in product marketing, operations, and customer care. Her work with Gray includes institutional strategy development, market location, segmentation, and program portfolio analysis. She specializes in facilitating the critical engagement processes needed to support various governance models and ensuring transparency of process for institutional alignment and success. Her prior experience in successfully navigating public and private stakeholder participation for the benefit and improvement of outcomes added to her depth of skills in working with cross-functional teams, respecting different perspectives, and facilitating an aligned outcome. Upchurch currently chairs the advisory board of Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy. She is also a member of the board of directors of Fresh Start Women’s Foundation and its nominating and governance committee, and is a member of Charter 100 Arizona. Upchurch holds an M.S. in management from Purdue University (Ind.) and a B.A. in organizational communications from Rollins College (Fla.).

Accommodations top

The Darcy– a pet friendly hotel
1515 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005
(844) 489-9661 


Reserve hotel accommodations online by March 1, 2022, to secure the reduced rate for AASCU members. Reservation requests received after March 1 may be available at a higher rate.

Sleeping Room Options: 1 King bed: $239 plus 14.95% occupancy and local taxes.  

Check-in time is 3:00 pm, and check-out time is 12:00 pm. 



Gray Associates

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