Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

E. Grady Bogue

Committee Members

John W. Prados, John R. Ray, Gerald C. Ubben


The Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) is a regulatory coordinating board that coordinates certain activities regarding all public institutions of higher education in Alabama. The state law that established ACHE in 1969 requires ACHE to arrange an external evaluation of its effectiveness once every four years. This was the first instance of any state governing or coordinating board being required to undergo regular external evaluations of that frequency, and Alabama remains the only state with such a requirement.

The objective of this study was to establish as clearly as feasible the degree to which the ACHE quadrennial evaluation (QE) process has been of benefit to ACHE and to Alabama higher education. Following the introduction, the literature review includes the results of a preliminary nationwide study concerning the practice of evaluations of statewide boards of higher education over a ten-year period. These results confirm the uniqueness of Alabama’s requirement in this regard.

The main study includes analysis of survey responses from over fifty individuals representing current and former members of the following groups: ACHE commissioners, ACHE staff members, and faculty and administrators of both two-year institutions and four-year colleges and universities. The researcher also conducted telephonic interviews with selected individuals to clarify the reasons for certain responses. The researcher also analyzed documentary evidence including the QE reports themselves, legislative changes based on QE committee recommendations, documents created by the ACHE staff in response to QE reports and recommendations, and media articles that address the various quadrennial evaluations. The evidence is presented by categories including ACHE’s major roles as well as other areas in which one or more of the first six QE committees have made recommendations.

Based on the evidence presented, the researcher concludes that the ACHE QE process has been of significant benefit to ACHE and to Alabama higher education, that Alabama should continue the QE process, and that other states should favorably consider establishing similar processes. The researcher also makes several recommendations concerning how Alabama might improve the QE process, and offers some suggestions for further research opportunities.

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