Mission | Vision | Core Values | Origin and Purpose | History | Past Chairs



The mission of the Council for the Advancement of Higher Education Programs (CAHEP) is to enrich the teaching and learning experiences of students and faculty in the Association's constituent Higher Education Programs within North America and around the world. The mission is also to facilitate exchange among program coordinators/directors, faculty, students, and other interested members of the Association and externally. 


CAHEP aspires to enhance the Association's reputation as a major contributor to the advancement of postsecondary education within the United States and around the world as manifested through the teaching and learning enterprise evident within our Higher Education programs. 

Core Values 

As a Council of ASHE dedicated to Higher Education Program excellence, we value: 

  • Creativity and innovative thinking in the pursuit of our mission and vision; 
  • Research that informs program delivery; 
  • High standards of quality in the various forms in which programs are structured and delivered; 
  • The critical role of coordinator/director leadership in achievement of our mission and vision; 
  • The unique and varied needs essential to the preparation of administrative leaders, public policy leaders, and teacher-scholar leaders; 
  • The centrality of the teaching and learning enterprise within our programs for the advancement of postsecondary education; and 
  • The graduate student voice in our work and efforts. 

Origins and Purpose 

The Council for the Advancement of Higher Education Programs is a standing committee of the Association of the Study of Higher Education. It was approved by ASHE’s Board to be the first of its standing committees in 1995. At the November 1996, higher education program directors and faculty elected its first slate of executive officers. They were: Chair Barbara Townsend from the University of Memphis, Vice Chair Michael D. Parsons from Indiana University, Secretary Michael Miller from the University of Alabama, Finance Officer Diane Brown Wright from the University of Akron, and Program Chair David Webster from Oklahoma State University. They were eager to enable the Association to assist the approximate 200 higher education programs across the country to promote program quality and institutional support. During the past 15 years, CAHEP’s five subsequent chairs and numerous other executive officers have led this Council devoted to improving the study of higher education and its programs across this country and Canada.

Its primary purposes are thus to enrich the teaching and learning experiences of the faculty and students of the Association’s constituent higher education degree programs. One of its major tasks is to advance the welfare of these programs in the United States and Canada through its activities and to bring forth related recommendations to the Association’s Board of Directors. The Council is open to all higher education program directors, faculty, degree students, and other interested members of the Association. 

At the beginning of ASHE’s annual meeting, CAHEP offers workshops, research paper sessions, and featured speakers. Beginning in 2008, a revitalized preconference program began with a new higher education faculty workshop with panels on teaching higher education courses, dissertation advising, as well as promotion and tenure issues. It is followed by two research paper and symposium sessions. Then higher education program directors, chairs, and coordinators as well as other faculty and students are invited to an open forum to discuss current issues and concerns related to higher education programs. The forum’s goal is to promote greater exchange among program directors, faculty, students, and other interested members of the Association and externally. Next a CAHEP business meeting and election of officers occurs. Finally, CAHEP concludes its day and half preconference meeting with the hosting of the Barbara Townsend Lecture, given in memory of its founding chair and president elect of ASHE, who was unable to assume her office due to her unfortunate death in 2009. Following Professor Townsend’s research agenda, the purpose of the lecture is to enable a higher education faculty member and/or department chair to discuss her or his recent major publication annually which may involve higher education as a field of study, higher education administration, doctoral students, women’s studies as it relates to higher education, or community colleges. 

History of the Council 

Historically, CAHEP was preceded by the annual Higher Education Program Directors’ Meeting as well as the Curriculum, Instruction, and Learning Committee of the ASHE Board. Both of these long-standing activities were integrated eventually within the Council’s larger purpose and structure. This transition did not come about quickly nor without extensive consultation. At the 1994 ASHE meeting, the program directors meeting held a panel discussion, comprised of Lester Goodchild (University of Denver), Barbara Townsend (University of Memphis), Clif Conrad (University of Wisconsin Madison), and Robert Hendrickson (Penn State University), to discuss how higher education program directors could work more effectively with the ASHE Board to promote the vitality of the field and higher education programs. Specifically, their discussion was “to provide the opportunity for program chairs to clarify the relationship between ASHE and higher education programs, the role ASHE could play to support them, and the practical or constitutional means to upgrade the program chairs’ role within ASHE.” One of the ways chosen at this meeting centered on creating a new program directors’ representative to have an elected seat on ASHE’s Board of Directors. Twenty-four directors out of 25 present voted in favor of this move. 

The higher education program directors also created a Steering Committee (comprised of Goodchild, Hendrickson, and Townsend) to facilitate this process and see what might be done at the remainder of the 1994 meeting and by the next ASHE meeting to achieve some of their desired goals. The Committee brought up the program chairs resolution at the November 8, 1994 ASHE Business Meeting. It received the support of the majority of the membership, thereby requiring the Board to deal with it at its end of conference meeting when the Board met again. While the Board did not favor this resolution, it instructed the then President Patrick Terenzini of Penn State to meet with Bob Hendrickson also at Penn State to work out some better means to promote more effective communication and action between the program directors and the Board during the academic year. To gain a broader understanding of the higher program chairs’ support of this resolution among all of those across the country, the Steering Committee then sent out a national poll to them to determine their support for this Amendment to the ASHE bylaws to include this position in April 1995. Of the 40 responses received, 33 voted in favor of the position, while 7 disapproved of this action. These responses demonstrated the broad based support for a greater role of the higher education program directors on the ASHE Board of Directors. With this documented support, Terenzini and Hendrickson’s deliberations then led to an idea of the first standing committee of the ASHE Board. Hendrickson then discussed this move with Goodchild and Townsend who supported this idea. Their collaboration during the spring and summer resulted in the creation of the council’s name, procedures for organizing the committee, and its bylaws. This boarder proposal gained the support of the President Terenzini. 

The next step occurred at the 1995 ASHE meeting when the Higher Education Program Directors approved of this resolution, council name, procedures, and bylaws. This resolution was then taken to ASHE Business meeting where it was passed “unanimously” by all those present. Subsequently, the ASHE Board approved the resolution, and ASHE had its first standing committee. This standing committee thus established more formal communication with the Board through its annual reports and especially through the Chair’s ex officio status which let to the chair’s meeting with the ASHE Board during the year to present its activities and concerns. This collaboration led to a greater working relationship among those elected by Association’s membership to be on its Board and those higher education program directors at the universities throughout the United States and Canada. 

Past CAHEP Chairs 

  • Barbara Townsend, University of Memphis, 1996-1997
  • Lester F. Goodchild, University of Denver, 1997-2000
  • Karen Card, University of South Dakota, 2000-2003
  • Diane Brown Wright, University of Akron, 2003-2006
  • Joshua Powers, Indiana State University, 2006-2009
  • Adrienne Hyle, University of Texas Arlington, 2009-2013
  • Michelle Nilson and Linda Serra Hagedorn (co-chairs) 2013-2016
  • Marybeth Walpole, Rowan University, 2016-2019