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Torchbearer in the fall

About Our Office



The Office of Assessment and Strategic Initiatives (OASI) facilitates assessment, evaluation, planning, and other research activities that actively contribute to the culture of evidence within the Division of Student Life at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). Through training and skill development related to program review, assessment, evaluation, planning, and research, OASI strives to help departments embed these areas in day to day operations of their programs and services to continuously improve and enhance learning for all students.

Last reviewed Spring 2019


The Office of Assessment and Strategic Initiatives (OASI) seeks to become a national exemplar for student affairs assessment by firming the culture of evidence within the Division of Student Life with sustainable, rigorous, and transparent practices surrounding program review, assessment, evaluation, planning, and research that contribute to the longstanding tradition of excellence at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville


OASI Staff

Melissa A. Brown, Ph.D.

Director of Student Life Assessment and Strategic Initiatives

Melissa joined the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in September 2017 as the inaugural director of OASI. She has over 15 years of experience teaching and working in higher education assessment and accreditation. Prior to working in higher education, she was a public school teacher for 10 years. Her passion for assessment began in those early years as she spent time working on local, state, and national assessment and accreditation initiatives. Melissa earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2019. She has published and presented on the topics of the construct validity of the American Association of Colleges and Universities VALUE rubrics, social justice-focused assessment practices, and campus climate. Her areas of expertise have been developed over the years in the areas of strategic planning, assessment, survey design, and the program review process.


Noelia Pacheco Diaz, Ph.D.

Assessment Coordinator

Dr. Pacheco-Diaz has more than ten years of experience in higher education. She started off as a lecturer. Dr. Pacheco-Diaz currently manages assessment plans, survey requests, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), among others.


OASI Committees

Assessment Steering Committee

The Division of Student Life Assessment Steering Committee provides guidance and strategic direction to the Office of Assessment and Strategic Initiatives. They contribute recommendations for seamless reporting of retention, graduation, and outcomes-based initiatives for the Division. The steering committee determines and helps to communicate the overall assessment efforts for the Division.


Assessment Champions

Assessment Champions serve as liaisons for assessment within each department, promoting a culture of assessment and providing guidance and support to fellow staff members. In addition, they act as advocates for assessment within their departments, encouraging staff members to use data to inform their work, providing best practices, and celebrating successes and achievements. Overall, Assessment Champions play a crucial role in ensuring that the Division of Student Life meets its goals and objectives and provides the best possible services and programs to students.