John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education
Lou Albert, Advisor –

157227E1-8E7A-4C6D-994E-9D58F4B04405Lou Albert is a Professor of Practice in the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.  Prior to his appointment at ASU, Lou served as President of the West Campus of Pima County Community College in Tucson, Arizona from 2003 until his retirement in 2015.  He is a former academic Vice Chancellor of the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District (1998-2003); and former Vice President of the American Association for Higher Education (1982-98), a not-for-profit membership association where John Gardner served as a member of its Board of Trustees.  At AAHE, Lou was responsible for organizing the annual National Conference on Higher Education, and for special initiatives that focused on school/college partnerships, service-learning and civic engagement, and instructional technology.  Lou was also a faculty member and senior administrator at Essex Community College, now a part of the Community College of Baltimore County.  Lou’s board service includes two terms on the National Board of Campus Compact, a consortium of nearly 1,200 college and university presidents committed to advancing the civic mission of higher education.  He also served for six years as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the International Partnership for Service-Learning.  In Tucson, he is a past Board Chair for the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.  Lou earned his Master of Science in Zoology and Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Maryland-College Park. He holds a B.S. in Biology from Loyola College (now University) of Maryland.   In 2001, he was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) from Cuttington University in the West African nation of Liberia.

You can reach him at

Alisha Francis, Advisor

alisha francis004Dr. Alisha Francis is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Northwest Missouri State University. She served as the founding director of the Teaching and Learning Center at Northwest, overseeing both faculty development and student learning support services. Her work with the Gardner Institute began during her time as Director of the Freshman Seminar program when she served as the university’s liaison for the Foundations of Excellence Program.

Alisha earned a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from Saint Louis University. As a faculty member, she applies the scientist-practitioner approach emphasized in that discipline to develop and assess teaching and learning strategies. That work is reflected in a number of publications and presentations related to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

You can reach her at



Mark Lange, Advisor –


Mark has had a combination of academic and counseling careers. After a few years as a public school counselor, he pursued a doctorate in clinical psychology. For most of the past 30 years he has held positions in higher education while maintaining a private practice in clinical psychology. For two decades he was professor of psychology at Holyoke Community College and has taught at public and private four year colleges. He most recently served as academic dean at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He continues to teach in the clinical psychology program at Antioch University New England. After completing a post-doc certificate in Organization Development and Human Resource Consultation he consulted with companies and non-profits to help them improve their effectiveness. He first worked with the JNGardner Institute as a liaison in the Foundations of Excellence process. He serves the Institute as an advisor in both the Foundations of Excellence and the Retention Performance Management processes. When he is not facilitating relationships in academic settings, you can find him building a house with Habitat for Humanity or sailing the Caribbean.

You can reach him at

Amelia V. Noel-Elkins, Advisor –

18817540_10104636338377750_1994686096_oAmelia V. Noël-Elkins, PhD, is director of University College at Illinois State University and has served in that role since July 2005. She previously served as associate athletics director and academic advisor at Indiana University. She is a past president of the Association of Deans and Directors of University Colleges and Undergraduate Studies and is a member of the National Academic Advising Association, the American College Personnel Association, NASPA, and the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics. She holds an AB degree from Harvard University (MA), a master’s degree in college student personnel administration and a doctorate in educational policy studies, both from Indiana University – Bloomington. She is the director of University College; she has served in that role since July 2005. University College assists new faculty members in providing academic support for students. With a focus on first year students, University College provides academic support services such as advising, tutoring, testing, and mentoring. Noël-Elkins previously served as associate athletics director at Indiana University. She holds an AB degree from Harvard University, a master’s degree in college student personnel administration and a Ph.D in educational policy studies, both from Indiana University.

You can reach her at

Matt Pistilli, Technical Consultant for Analytics & Advisor –

MDPistilli Headshot LargeDr. Matthew Pistilli, PhD, is the Director of Student Affairs Assessment and Research in the Division of Student Affairs at Iowa State University. For nearly 20 years, Matt has focused on creating and assessing conditions and environments that positively affect college student success. Over his career, he has worked with summer bridge programs, residence life, learning communities, orientation programming, supplemental instruction, learning analytics, strategic planning processes, and low-income student scholarship and support programming.

A recognized expert in learning analytics, Dr. Pistilli has published and presented internationally on the implementation of learning analytics in higher education. He was the principal investigator for a $1.23M initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build and scale analytics capacity to increase student success at ten institutions across the United States.

His current and previous roles have also focused on creating, revising, and assessing divisional- and university-wide strategic plans. He facilitates trainings on learning analytics, assessment and evaluation, mission and vision building, and strategic planning and has served on the review and editorial teams for the International Journal of Learning Analytics, the Journal of Student Affairs Inquiry, and the Journal of The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. His research interests include determining the components necessary for campuses to successfully implement learning analytics, the intersection of technology and student success, and the extent to which the co-curricular environment positively affects student learning.

Matt holds a BA in psychology and Spanish from Southwest Minnesota State University, an MSEd in counseling and college student affairs from Purdue University, and a PhD in higher education administration, also from Purdue.

You can reach him at

Ralph Rascati, Advisor – 770-598-2592 –

RascatiProfilePictureDr. Ralph J. Rascati earned a B.S. in Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1969 and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts in 1975. He spent 4 years as a research scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the field of Virology where he directed the research activities of several undergraduate students. After several years at Illinois State University he came to Kennesaw State as Associate Professor of Biology in 1985. He served as Chair of the Department of Biology & Physics from 1997 until 2002 when he became Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. In 2006 he added the position of Dean of University College. He served in that capacity until January, 2014 when, at the request of the president and the provost he became Founding Dean of the Honors College. He was also the primary author and architect of the Kennesaw State University’s Retention, Progression & Graduation (RPG) initiative and subsequently KSU’s participation in the Complete College Georgia Initiative. He has served as President Elect (2013-14) and then President (2014-15) of the Association of Deans & Directors of University Colleges and Undergraduate Studies (AD&D). For his entire career, over 40 years in higher education, his focus has been on understanding the factors that influence the academic success of students.

His efforts on behalf of first-year students were nationally recognized when, in 2009, he was selected as an Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. The award was presented at the 2009 National Meeting on the First-Year Experience in Orlando, Florida.

Dr. Rascati served on the steering committee for Kennesaw State University’s participation in the Foundations of Excellence – First Year self-study and was the campus liaison for their participation in the Foundations of Excellence – Transfer Focus self-study.  Following the FoE-Transfer Focus self-study he was a co-author of a successful $3.2M FIPSE- First in the World grant focusing efforts on serving transfer students at both the sending and receiving institutions.

Dr. Rascati was instrumental in developing several innovative programs during his tenure at Kennesaw State University. These include the Thrive program, which employed the services of graduation coaches to help students successfully navigate through their university experience, and a first of its kind Masters program in First-Year Studies. He has served as a consultant for many institutions. Consulting projects have included, among others, evaluating the University College at SUNY-Buffalo State College and helping re-design the Core Curriculum Program at Qatar University in Doha.

Upon his retirement from Kennesaw State University in 2015 he joined the Gardner Institute as an advisor and consultant.

To contact Ralph, please email him at or call 770-598-2592.

Mike Rosenberg, Technical Consultant for Transfer – 828-385-8399 –

MikeRosenberg-headshotDr. Rosenberg, an Eastern Kentucky native, comes to JNGI with a broad base of administrative experience at public and private two- and four-year colleges. After starting his career in residence life, Dr. Rosenberg moved into the realm of student engagement, academic preparedness and academic advising. Enrollment management, strategic planning, judicial affairs, and program evaluation are all areas in his toolkit.

Most recently, Rosenberg’s focus has been on transfer programs and processes between community colleges and baccalaureate-granting institutions. As Director of Transfer at Gateway Community and Technical College and Chair of the Kentucky Community and Technical College Transfer Peer Team, he oversaw the development of the Gateway2NKU program, a highly successful collegiate partnership in Northern Kentucky; as well as developing transfer policy on the statewide level. He is currently Director at TNV Educational Consulting.

Dr. Rosenberg holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a certificate in Women’s Studies from Duke University, a master’s degree in Higher Education from the University of Arizona, and an Ed.D. from the University of Kentucky in Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation. His doctoral research focus was on community college students’ transfer intent, their access of transfer-related services, and differences between adult and traditional-aged students in the transfer process. His findings were recently published in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice.

Mike resides in Newport, KY with his wife, Dr. Pamela Wilcox, and their two dogs. He is a college basketball aficionado, a relatively decent cook, and a neophyte gardener. For the last ten years, he has authored The Naked Vine, a wine education and review column.

To contact Mike, please email him at or call 828-385-8399 .

Edward Willis, Technical Consultant for Retention – (850) 445-1448 –


edwillisEd Willis is a seasoned university administrator providing vision and leadership for diverse student-body environments, while managing key internal and external stakeholder relationships involving student affairs.  He possesses a deep understanding of the academic process and its relationship to student issues, as well as the ability to identify and implement initiatives that promote student-centered communities, improve the quality of the student experience, and bolster university relations.  As a leading expert on student-centered learning environments, Ed has held significant roles at major research universities, historically black colleges and universities, and large commuting/community colleges with student populations from 7K to 40K.

Throughout his career, Ed has led strategic planning, policy and procedure development, and climate/culture change initiatives.  He has had oversight of budgets from $4.2M to $20M and teams of 100 to 500.  As the senior leader of student affairs teams, Ed provides administrative, operational, and programmatic direction that spanned Admissions, Financial Aid, Scholarships, New Student Orientation, Registrar, Student Advocacy Services, Military Services and Veteran Affairs, Career Services, Counseling Services, Disability Services, International Student Services, Living-Learning Communities, Residence Life and Housing, Student Activities, Student Health Services, Student Life, Student Recreation Programs, Student Rights and Responsibilities, Student Support Services, the Marching Band, Cheerleaders, and Campus Choir.  He initiated and executed procedures for accreditation, assessment, strategic planning, human resource management, budgeting, development of policy/procedures, and special projects such as university lead on the development of a comprehensive Housing/Residential Life Master Plan to guide the replacement and refurbishment of student housing.

Ed holds a Masters of Education in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey Graduate School of Education, and a Bachelor of Arts in American History from Montclair State University.  His accreditation experience includes serving as an Evaluator of On-site Reaffirmation Committees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and he has served as an Evaluation Team Member for six institutions, (2011-2017) and was appointed to serve on the SACSCOC June 2016 Fifth Year Review Committee (Reviewing 44 institutions on 17 Principles of Accreditation).  Ed belongs to the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), and the Association of Governing Boards (AGB).

A trusted advisor to university presidents and governing boards, Ed has served on the following university committees:  President’s Executive Council; Fiscal Advisory Committee; various Search Committees; Policy Development/Strategic Planning Committees; Service-Learning Steering Committee; High-risk Behavior Campaign; Institutional-level Assessment Committee; Student Retention Council; Undergraduate Council Diversity Task Force; Provost’s Task Force on Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay Affairs; Co-chair of Fan Behavior committee; Executive Enrollment Management Council; and as a member of a Collective Bargaining Management Team.

To contact Ed, please email him at or call (850) 445-1448.