SACCR Honors Dr. Gwen Aldridge
The Southeastern Association of Community College Research (SACCR) recently recognized Dr. Gwen Polk Aldridge, of Batesville, by establishing an award in her honor. The Gwen P. Aldridge Institutional Effectiveness Award was presented to Dr. Aldridge at the organization’s annual meeting, which was held earlier this year in Huntsville, AL.
Dr. Aldridge was recognized for her leadership and advancement in the field of institutional research for community colleges. The award will be presented annually by the organization’s board of directors, to outstanding SACCR members, who make significant contributions in the areas of community college program evaluation and accreditation.
Established in 1971, SACCR provides a regional forum for planning, coordinating, or conducting activities which promote the effective use of research results at community colleges throughout the southeastern United States. The organization, which serves 13 states, identifies and promotes best practices in institutional research and planning which support and strengthen decision making processes of higher education at the regional, state, and institutional levels.
Dr. Aldridge has been involved in SACCR, since 2002, during which time she has served in every leadership position including secretary, program chair and president.
“SACCR plays a vital role in promoting training and professional development and providing networking opportunities for those involved in research and planning across our region,” Dr. Aldridge said. “I am deeply honored and humbled to be recognized by such an organization. SACCR has been invaluable to me in my own professional growth.”
SACCR President Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner said the success of the organization has everything to do with the leadership of people like Dr. Aldridge.
“SACCR was one of six regional organizations established to facilitate community college research throughout the country. SACCR is the only one to survive,” Dr. Tincher-Ladner said. “The reason SACCR thrived, while others have not, is because of people like Dr. Aldridge, who have been committed to its success.”
Dr. Aldridge graduated from Northwest Mississippi Community College and then went on to Delta State University, where she earned a B.S.E. degree in Mathematics. She later studied at the University of Mississippi, where she earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mathematics.
Although she is retired, Dr. Aldridge remains active in SACCR and in supporting community college success throughout the region.
“I have spent a large portion of my life in and around community colleges,” she said. “My work has been a tremendous adventure and blessing – It has been extraordinarily rewarding to be a part of the community college environment. I believe strongly in the value of community colleges in providing a quality and affordable education for students who may not have the opportunity to go elsewhere. Community colleges excel in remedial education, in workforce training, and in classroom teaching.”
Prior to her retirement, Dr. Aldridge served as Director of Assessment at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Dr. Aldridge also served as Director of Institutional Research and Planning at Northwest Mississippi Community College, where she conducted institutional research to support college strategic planning and accreditation. She laughingly says that it has been her job both to “prove and improve.” Institutional researchers collect, analyze, report, and warehouse data about their institution. The information is used to inform campus decision makers and thus “improve” programs and services internally. The information is also used for external accountability in reporting to accrediting agencies and government bodies – and thus to demonstrate and “prove” compliance.
Dr. Aldridge has served as Vice-President and as President of the Mississippi Collegiate Mathematics Association and as Vice-President and President of the Mississippi Association for Institutional Research (MAIR). She has provided training at community colleges across the region on student learning outcomes and has made presentations at MAIR, the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, the Mississippi Collegiate Mathematics Association, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Tennessee Association of Institutional Research, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). She has served on more than fifteen peer review teams for SACSCOC. She was recently presented the Jim Nichols Service Award by the Mississippi Association for Institutional Research. She has taught mathematics at the high school, college, and graduate levels.
Dr. Aldridge and her husband have four grown children and are currently expecting their fourth grandchild.