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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. 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

Noelia is a doctoral student working towards her PhD in Evaluation Statistics and Measurement (ESM) in the Educational Psychology and Counseling Department. She graduated from Ohio University with a Masters in Spanish Literature and Linguistics. Noelia also worked as a Spanish lecturer at Ohio State University and here at UT. In her program, she had the opportunity to gain experience in evaluating and assessing programs based on quantitative data. She is looking forward working as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Division of Student Life.

Organizational Chart


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.  

  • Chair – Dr. Melissa A. Brown, Director, Assessment and Strategic Initiatives
  • Dr. Sean Basso, Associate Director, RecSports
  • Ian Crone, Director, Student Union
  • Dr. Noelia Pacheco Diaz, Assessment Coordinator, Assessment and Strategic Initiatives
  • Lauri Dusselier. Director, Center for Health Education & Wellness
  • Dr. Lori Smith, Assistant Director, Student Disability Services
  • Blake Weiss, Coordinator of Special Projects, Office of the Vice-Chancellor
  • Landin Lynd, Assistant Director, Student Life Communications
  • Jennifer Pierce Thomas, Associate Director, Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life


Assessment Champions

Student Life Assessment Champions serve as the liaisons or “go-to” staff members for all things assessment within each department. More information on the role of Assessment Champions can be found in the  Assessment Champions Handbook.


Department Assessment Champion
Center for Health Education & Wellness Yusof Al-Wadei
Center for Care & Resilience Madisien Howard
Center for Student Engagement Brad Ward
Jones Center for Leadership & Service Michael Cheppo
Student Life Communications Beth Hall Davis
Dean of Students Office Joe Pierce
Multicultural Student Life Naquaina Moore
Pride Center Bonnie Johnson
RecSports Cameron Freeman
Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life Jennifer Pierce Thomas
Student Conduct & Community Standards Shaun McComas
Student Counseling Center James Arnett III
Student Disability Services Sara Conrad 
Student Health Center Carman North
Student Life Tech Group Jolyon Gray
Student Union Alison Ward
University Housing Anthony White