Research Studies and Reports

​The following publications are available from the Council of Independent Colleges.


The Financial Resilience of Independent Colleges and Universities

​​ By Hollie M. Chessman, Harold V. Hartley III, and Michael Williams

This report explores the financial resilience of independent colleges and universities through an analysis of 14 years (fiscal years 2001–2014) of financial data from 559 private nondoctoral institutions. Through analysis of financial performance in several domains, the data reveal that the majority of independent baccalaureate and master’s-level colleges and universities have maintained financial stability, health, and viability. 2017, 42 pgs.


This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download The Financial Resilience of Independent Colleges and Universities


Utilizing Independent Colleges and Universities to Fulfill States’ College Degree Attainment Goals

​​ By William Zumeta and Nick Huntington-Klein

In this follow-up report to The Cost-Effectiveness of Undergraduate Education at Private Nondoctoral Colleges and Universities, Zumeta and Huntington-Klein expand their analysis to consider the impact of a modest $1,000 state grant awarded to students who hypothetically choose private colleges and universities in 24 states. The researchers find that these modest grants would reduce state outlays in 22 of the states and increase total baccalaureate degree production in 19 of them. 2017, 60 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Utilizing Independent Colleges and Universities to Fulfill States’ College Degree Attainment Goals


Online Learning at Private Colleges and Universities 2016

​​ By David L. Clinefelter and Andrew J. Magda

The report summarizes the findings of the survey and documents how online education is being used at CIC colleges and universities. Topics addressed include the types of online programs offered, how the delivery of online programs is organized, financial considerations, and future plans by colleges for the use of online learning. The report compares results of the 2016 survey with findings from a similar 2013 report (PDF). 2016, 57 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Online Learning at Private Colleges and Universities 2016


Student Debt: Myths and Facts; Reframing Student Debt Totals

 The Fourth Edition of CIC's fact sheet, “Student Debt: Myths and Facts” contains new research to set the record straight by countering myths and providing facts about student debt.

Increases in the price of attending college and the rise in defaults on student loans have continued to keep student debt in the headlines. But contrary to the popular anecdotes of students who are crushed by high debt levels in order to obtain an undergraduate degree, the facts tell a different story. "Reframing Student Debt Totals" sheds new light on the question of student debt.

Download "Student Debt: Myths and Facts"
Read "Reframing Student Debt Totals"


Changes in Faculty Composition at Independent Colleges

​​ By Christopher Morphew, Kelly Ward, and Lisa Wolf-Wendel

This report provides empirical evidence about specific trends in faculty staffing, roles, and responsibilities at smaller private liberal arts institutions in the United States, with a focus on the more than 600 four-year colleges and universities that are members of the Council of Independent Colleges. It also addresses how the changing composition of the faculty at such institutions may affect institutional missions, shared governance, strategic planning, institutional decision making, and teaching and learning both inside and outside of the classroom. 2016, 56 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Changes in Faculty Composition at Independent Colleges


Strategic Change and Innovation in Independent Colleges: Nine Mission-Driven Campuses

​​ By James C. Hearn, Jarrett B. Warshaw, and Erin B. Ciarimboli

This report follows up on the analysis in Mission-Driven Innovation: An Empirical Study of Adaptation and Change among Independent Colleges, focusing now on innovative actions implemented at nine CIC member institutions especially active in adaptation and change. Each of these colleges was chosen for further analysis because of its high level of innovative activity in cost containment and reduction, in revenue enhancement and diversification, or in both arenas. Together the case analyses provide a rich resource with applicability for leaders of other colleges and universities seeking to align innovation and mission. 2016, 44 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Strategic Change and Innovation in Independent Colleges


The Cost-Effectiveness of Undergraduate Education at Private Nondoctoral Colleges and Universities

​​ By William Zumeta and Nick Huntington-Klein

The Cost-Effectiveness of Undergraduate Education at Private Nondoctoral Colleges and Universities examines key aspects of the cost-effectiveness of private nondoctoral colleges as providers of baccalaureate degrees and explores how states might feasibly make better use of these colleges to produce more degrees efficiently. The study looks at degree production and cost in the private nondoctoral sector relative to other higher education sectors, focusing on the most comparable public institutions. 2015, 48 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download The Cost-Effectiveness of Undergraduate Education at Private Nondoctoral Colleges and Universities


Mission-Driven Innovation: An Empirical Study of Adaptation and Change among Independent Colleges

​​ By James C. Hearn and Jarrett B. Warshaw

Mission-Driven Innovation: An Empirical Study of Adaptation and Change among Independent Colleges documents the initiatives and innovations by smaller private colleges in response to economic pressures, rising costs, and increasing competition.  Survey data collected from CIC presidents show that almost all colleges are engaged in at least one project to strengthen revenue or control costs, with nine out of ten pursuing initiatives that concentrate on both. One-third of presidents say they are “aggressively” focused on mission-driven innovations. The report, funded by the TIAA-CREF Institute, shows that private colleges are genuine change agents. 2015, 52 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Mission-Driven Innovation


Independent Colleges and Student Engagement: Descriptive Analysis by Institutional Type

​​ By Robert M. Gonyea and Jillian Kinzie

Independent Colleges and Student Engagement: Descriptive Analysis by Institutional Type affirms the effectiveness of independent colleges and universities for undergraduate student learning. Students at private institutions are more likely to be engaged in educationally effective experiences than their peers at public institutions. These findings update and reaffirm what has been previously demonstrated: that the traditional, residential, liberal arts college provides a more effective learning environment for today’s students. 2015, 74 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
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Expanding Access and Opportunity: How Small and Mid-Sized Independent Colleges Serve First-Generation and Low-Income Students

​​ By P. Jesse Rine and Jennifer Eliason

Expanding Access and Opportunity: How Small and Mid-Sized Independent Colleges Serve First-Generation and Low-Income Students demonstrates that students from first-generation and low-income backgrounds routinely experience better outcomes if they attend a smaller private college. Contrary to the popular myth that private colleges are only for affluent students, this research clearly demonstrates that students of all academic and social backgrounds enroll in smaller private colleges, and these institutions provide a more rigorous and engaged college experience than larger public universities. 2015, 52 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
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Strengthening the STEM Pipeline: The Contributions of Small and Mid-Sized Independent Colleges

​​ By P. Jesse Rine and Wei Song

Many assume that research universities, especially public institutions, are the backbone of American efforts to prepare undergraduate students in STEM fields and that these institutions are fulfilling this responsibility. Strengthening the STEM Pipeline: The Contributions of Small and Mid-Sized Independent Colleges demonstrates that many small and mid-sized independent colleges are preparing postsecondary students for a career and/or graduate study in STEM fields, and they are doing so in a more efficient way than larger institutions, contrary to public assumptions about the importance of scale. 2014, 26 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Strengthening the STEM Pipeline


Engaging Evidence: How Independent Colleges and Universities Use Data to Improve Student Learning

​​ By Mary Ann Coughlin

CIC published a report on the outcomes of the Engaging Evidence Consortium that describes lessons learned by the 40 participating colleges and universities. The primary goal of this initiative, generously funded by the Teagle Foundation, was to develop a network of colleges and universities that has learned how to use the results of student outcomes assessment to improve student learning. 2014, 22 pgs.


This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Engaging Evidence


Defining Outcomes, Demonstrating Quality: The CIC Degree Qualifications Profile Consortium

​​ By Terry Grimes

CIC published a report on the outcomes of the Degree Qualifications Profile Consortium that describes lessons learned by the 25 participating colleges and universities. This two-year project, funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education, allowed CIC to work with a select group of independent colleges and universities with the goal of examining the usefulness of the “Degree Qualifications Profile” in improving student learning and increasing the successful completion of baccalaureate degrees at independent colleges and universities. 2014, 26 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Defining Outcomes, Demonstrating Quality


Online Learning at Private Colleges and Universities

​​ By David L. Clinefelter and Andrew J. Magda

To provide CIC member institutions with information about the current state of online instruction at CIC institutions, CIC partnered with The Learning House, Inc., which conducted a survey of CAOs and prepared the report, Online Learning at Private Colleges and Universities: A Survey of Chief Academic Officers. The report summarizes the findings of the CAO survey and documents how online education is being used at CIC colleges and universities. 2013, 37 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Online Learning at Private Colleges and Universities


Making Sure They Make It: Best Practices for Ensuring the Academic Success of First-Generation College Students

​​ By Kerry J. Strand

Making Sure They Make It: Best Practices for Ensuring the Academic Success of First-Generation College Students is the final report CIC/Walmart College Success Awards program funded by the Walmart Foundation. The report shares the lessons learned by faculty and staff members at 50 CIC member institutions as they extended, deepened, or otherwise improved already strong strategies to increase enrollments, retention, graduation, and learning of first-generation college students. 2013, 46 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Making Sure They Make It


Study of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities

​​ By Wei Song and Harold V. Hartley III

CIC’s report, A Study of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities, analyzes the demographic characteristics of CIC college and university presidents, their duties and responsibilities, satisfaction and frustrations in their work, and career paths and plans. The report also examines the presidential search process and conditions of employment. Comparisons were made with presidents of other types of institutions. 2012, 36 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Study of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities


An Analysis of Learning Outcomes of Underrepresented Students at Urban Institutions

​​ By Josipa Roksa
 
CIC’s report, An Analysis of Learning Outcomes of Underrepresented Students at Urban Institutions, examines the learning outcomes as measured by the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) of low-income and first-generation students attending urban colleges and universities, and provides comparisons with similar students at non-urban institutions. The 19 CIC member institutions that participated in the study are part of the Creating Pathways to Educational and Economic Opportunity in Urban Colleges and Universities project, generously funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.2012, 36 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download An Analysis of Learning Outcomes of Underrepresented Students at Urban Institutions


CIC Statement on Assessment

​​ CIC has long been a national leader in voluntary efforts to improve the quality of student learning and a strong advocate of institutional autonomy in accountability efforts. Since 2001, CIC has tried to help its member colleges navigate through the array of initiatives that are underway—those by regional accreditors, foundation-supported projects, and various campus efforts—focusing on specific aspects of the overall topic at different times. CIC's Statement on Assessment summarizes these efforts.



This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download CIC Statement on Assessment



Catalyst for Change: The CIC/CLA Consortium

​​ By David C. Paris

Catalyst for Change: The CIC/CLA Consortium is a final report on the work of the CIC Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) Consortium, which piloted a way to measure student learning outcomes that is not overly burdensome to colleges and universities. The report highlights the efforts of 47 independent colleges and universities to make voluntary use of the CLA and describes the challenges faced and “best practices” learned in using assessment results to improve teaching and learning. It follows an interim report, Evidence of Learning: Applying the Collegiate Learning Assessment to Improve Teaching and Learning in the Liberal Arts College Experience, released in 2008, that was based on the Consortium’s 2004–2008 activities. 2011, 46 pgs.

Up to four print copies are available free of charge. To order copies, please email your request to CIC at cic@cic.nche.edu or contact us at (202) 466-7230.
Download Catalyst for Change


CIC Study of Chief Academic Officers

​​ By Harold V. Hartley III and Eric E. Godin
 
CIC’s report, “A Study of Chief Academic Officers of Independent Colleges and Universities,” examines the characteristics, responsibilities, and career trajectories of chief academic officers (CAOs) of the nation’s small and mid-sized private, nonprofit colleges and universities. Using data from the American Council on Education’s The CAO Census: A National Profile of Chief Academic Officers, CIC analyzed the career pathways; demographic characteristics such as gender, race/ethnicity, and age; major field of study; current duties and responsibilities, including levels of satisfaction, time-consuming activities, best and most challenging relationships, and greatest frustrations; and career aspirations, looking specifically at CAOs’ interest in a college presidency. 2010, 44 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download CIC Study of Chief Academic Officers


CIC Study of Presidential Career Patterns

​​ By Harold V. Hartley III and Eric E. Godin
 
CIC’s report, “A Study of Career Patterns of the Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities,” examines the various career routes and other characteristics of first-time presidents. Using data from the American Council on Education’s American College President Study, CIC analyzed the career pathways; demographic characteristics such as gender, race/ethnicity, and age; major field of study; and sense of readiness for various presidential responsibilities of first-time American college and university presidents from 1986 to 2006. 2009, 26 pgs.

This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download CIC Study of Presidential Career Patterns



Evidence of Learning: Applying the Collegiate Learning Assessment to Improve Teaching and Learning in the Liberal Arts College Experience

​​ This report highlights the experiences of the 33 members of CIC's Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) Consortium over the past three years as they used the CLA to measure student learning outcomes. The CLA instrument assesses how the college experience helps students develop such “higher order” cognitive skills as critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem-solving, and effective writing. 2008, 32 pgs.



This report is available online only as a PDF.
Download Evidence of Learning


Advancing Small Colleges: A Benchmarking Survey Update

​​Advancing Small Colleges book coverEdited by Wesley K. Willmer

This companion to Advancing Small Colleges: Strategies for Success examines trends in small and mid-sized college and university advancement based on the most recent CASE/CIC survey of 274 institutions covering their fundraising, marketing and communications, alumni relations and admissions activity. 2008, 135 pgs.

This book is available for purchase from CASE.