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Assessment VP Comes Home to UST

At only 11 years old, Dr. Siobhan Fleming served dinner to University of St. Thomas priests in Donaghue Hall, the Basilian Residence. Coming back to her alma mater, and home away from home, Fleming is the new associate vice president of Institutional Assessment and Effectiveness.

Fleming learned some of the best life lessons while working in the kitchen, intermittently until age 20, from none other than St. Thomas beloved Basilian priest and mentor, the late Rev. James Keon, CSB.

“I served dinner Tuesdays and Thursday nights, and Father Keon was in charge of the kitchen when I was working there,” Fleming said. “He was really great and taught me a lot about taking pride in your work and he said, ‘a job worth doing is worth doing well.’”

The priests at UST were not the only major influence in her life, but, originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Fleming’s seven older brothers and sisters guided her stealthy through her collegiate career at UST. All the children of her large Irish Catholic family have received graduate degrees, seven of which are terminal degrees in their discipline – two received doctorates, three are lawyers, two are surgeons and one is a teacher.

“All eight of us graduated from UST, so this is our home away from home,” Fleming said. “At my graduation ceremony in May 1987, my dad was presented with a plaque commemorating this honor. It was a very rigorous education, and I credit our success to St. Thomas. Ever since I got my Ph.D., I said I want to work at St. Thomas. I want my kids to go here, and one of my nephews already goes here. It’s just always been the plan – try to get back to St. Thomas because it is just such a loving environment.”

Fleming, now a mother of three, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and a philosophy minor. She holds dual citizenship with the United States and Canada. She received her master’s degree in communication from Pepperdine University and her doctor of philosophy degree in higher education policy, research and management from the University of Oregon. She also worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at the National University of Ireland-University College Dublin, Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and the University of Oregon.

Fleming is an experienced higher education researcher and policy analyst. She has worked in higher education since 1992 at public and private universities, community colleges, as well as internationally. Most recently, Fleming led the Office of Institutional Research & Effectiveness at the Lone Star College System in Northwest Houston. She co-led the Lone Star College System’s 10-year Reaffirmation effort for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, receiving compliance certification for the Institutional Effectiveness Core Requirement 2.5. She designed and implemented an enterprise-wide process by which instructors and administrators could continuously identify and assess outcomes to maintain compliance on the SACS Comprehensive Standards for Institutional Effectiveness.

She is a nationally recognized expert on institutional effectiveness. As an accreditation expert, Fleming worked for the Mid-Atlantic Region Commission on Higher Education, and contributed to their published handbook for colleges seeking reaffirmation: “Assessment of Student Learning: Options and Resources.”

Dr. Dominic Aquila, vice president for Academic Affairs, said UST is blessed to have Fleming join the St. Thomas staff, officially.

“She not only has extraordinarily credentials and expertise in the areas of institutional effectiveness and assessment, but as an alumna of the University and close friend of the Basilian fathers for many years, she knows St. Thomas – its culture and traditions – as well as anyone.”

Her links to Houston and UST are vast. She attended St. Anne Catholic School as a child and Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, but graduated from Incarnate Word Academy in 1983 and began at University of St. Thomas the following fall, at only 16 years old. Sister Madeline Grace, CVI, associate professor and Scanlan Foundation Chair in Theology, was her high school religion teacher at Incarnate Word. Fleming attended the UST Study Abroad Program in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico with fellow students the Rev. Ted Baenziger, CSB, associate professor of Modern and Classical Languages, and the late Father Keon. Her brother Michael currently serves on the UST Board of Trustees.

“In a way, it’s bittersweet because so many of the priests have gone,” Fleming said. “It’s a new job, so there are a lot of challenges, but then it has this feeling of familiarity because I feel like I grew up here, and I just know it like the back of my hand. It’s changed and there are new faces, but it’s a good feeling. The work will take care of itself, and it feels so good to be back here.”

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