Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience

2017 Keynote Speaker & Panelists

SAARC 2017: Making Data Meaningful: Addressing Critical Issues

Keynote Speaker

Kristen Renn

Kristen Renn, PhD is a Professor of Higher, Adult, & Lifelong Education at Michigan State University.

Dr. Renn has recently served as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies/Director for Student Success Initiatives. Prior to coming to Michigan State University she was a dean in the Office of Student Life at Brown University and a policy analyst for the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.

Dr. Renn’s research focuses on the experiences, learning, and development of minoritized students in higher education. As MSU’s University Innovation Alliance Liaison, she also studies student success, with a particular focus on low-income students and racially minoritized students. She recently completed a landmark study of women’s colleges and universities worldwide. Dr. Renn is also co-PI of the National Study of LGBTQ Student Success.

She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and received her PhD in higher education at Boston College.



Erica Eckert

Erica Eckert, PhD serves as Assistant Dean for Assessment and Accreditation and as Assistant Professor in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services at Kent State University.

Dr. Eckert manages the assessment efforts for accreditation, compliance, and program review and engages in survey development and data analysis.  Dr. Eckert teaches courses on assessment and technology in higher education, as well as education research methods.  She is a member of AIR and NASPA, and is a member of the NASPA Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Knowledge Community leadership team.

Sonia DeLuca Fernández

Sonia DeLuca Fernández, PhD, is the Assistant Vice Provost for Educational Equity at the Pennsylvania State University.

She coordinates Educational Equity’s strategic planning process; oversees unit publications and strategic communications efforts; works collaboratively with the 24 Commonwealth Campuses, and manages the educational opportunity programming budget for the campuses. Dr. DeLuca Fernández is involved with the three President’s Commissions for Equity; as well as the Office of Human Resources and the Office of Affirmative Action to help guide the goals outlined in Penn State’s “Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence.” Before joining Penn State, she held various appointments in higher education, working in assessment, multicultural affairs, commuter student services, and student activities. She has been on the board of Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL); and is an active member of several associations, including ASHE, NASPA, and ACPA. She earned a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Michigan.

Sean McLaughlin

Sean McLaughlin, PhD, is the Director of Institutional Research at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.

In addition to institutional data reporting responsibilities, he chairs the Otterbein University Institutional Effectiveness Committee, coordinating and reviewing assessment of learning outcomes and program reviews for both academic departments and administrative units; his recent work at Otterbein has focused on studying the climate for diversity and inclusion among faculty, staff and students. Dr. McLaughlin served as the director of Off-Campus and Commuter Student Engagement in the Office of Student Life at The Ohio State University prior to joining the Otterbein community where he researched the impacts of Student Life programming and student demographics on key social structures in the densely populated student neighborhoods near the OSU campus. He holds a B.S.Ed. from Duquesne University, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Higher Education Student Affairs Administration from The Ohio State University.

Yuerong Sweetland

Yuerong Sweetland, PhD, is the Director of Assessment and faculty at Franklin University.

In addition to teaching graduate-level evaluation and research methods courses, she oversees the design, collection, evaluation, and reporting for program and university assessment. Dr. Sweetland has been managing assessment at higher education institutions for over ten years and has presented at local, national and international conferences on various assessment topics. She currently serves on the External Relations Committee for the AALHE (Association of Assessment of Learning in Higher Education) and the Steering Committee of the Overseas Chinese Association of Institutional Researchers (OCAIR). She holds a PhD in Education from The Ohio State University, M.A. in English from Tsinghua University (China), and B.A. in English from Tianjin University (China).