AHEE Board Member Bios

Michael Bourgeois (President) is a transformational and dynamic higher education leader, researcher and author with robust experience advancing university performance through designing actionable institutional effectiveness research and building highly efficient implementation teams.   Dr. Bourgeois is a first generation student, earning a BA in psychology at Texas State University and an MA and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California with emphases in organizational analyses, quantitative methods, social network analysis and educational and social policy.  He presently serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Institutional Effectiveness and Data Strategy at Purdue University Northwest.

Dr. Bourgeois brings more than 20 years of experience in cross-divisional, higher education leadership in support of executive decision making and continuous improvement via key roles in offices of institutional effectiveness, institutional research, policy development, program evaluation, outcomes assessment and strategic/academic/operational planning in both the University of California and the California State University systems and now at Purdue University Northwest.  Dr. Bourgeois has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in sociology, organizational management, assessment, evaluation and statistics at multiple universities, and is particularly gifted in teaching statistics and research methods to students who think they cannot be successful in these courses.   He has also served as a statistical consultant for employment discrimination class action cases across the United States. 

Dr. Bourgeois’ research into educational structure, policy and equity has been published in national and international journals and his recent co-authored field book (with Dr. Daniel Seymour) on institutional effectiveness, has been received with acclaim.  He is passionate about designing evidence structures to support institutions interested in closing equity and inclusion gaps, particularly in higher education. 

Robert “Joel” Farrell (Treasurer) is the chief of academic analytics for Air University based in Alabama. He directs analysis, research and planning activities to improve the quality of education across the United States Air Force. He collaborates with leaders across the department of defense on topics related to quality and accreditation. Previously, he served as associate provost for student support and academic services of National Defense University. Farrell earned his Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision with a specialization in educational psychology from Auburn University, a M.Ed. in counseling from Auburn, a M.S. in religion from Amridge University in Alabama, and completed postdoctoral studies in bioethics at Georgetown University.

Ashlei Watson (Secretary) has over 15 years of experience in higher education and has held a variety of administrative roles. She is currently the Director of Academic Research at College for Creative Studies, an art and design school in Detroit. In this position, she develops and implements continuous improvement initiatives for the academic division, assists with planning and decision making, and manages accreditation efforts. 

Ashlei’s passion for continuous learning, systems thinking, problem solving, and operational effectiveness has led to a questioning of traditional credit-based approaches and culture and an enthusiasm for researching and testing new methods of content and skill delivery. Her goal is to be part of a reenvisioning of the country’s higher education system, creating opportunity for every individual to have equitable access to education and skill development that will improve their personal and professional circumstances.

Ashlei has a Bachelor’s of Art in English Language and Literature from Eastern Michigan University.

Steve Erickson has nearly 20 years of experience in higher education. He has held faculty and administrative positions at two-year colleges providing leadership in academic and student affairs, institutional research, data analytics, planning, and accreditation compliance. Dr. Erickson currently serves Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M State) as the Interim Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Technology Solutions, leading efforts in information technology, institutional research, institutional planning, assessment and institutional accreditation.

Erickson joined the college in 2014 as director of institutional research and has held roles including dean of eCampus, dean of institutional effectiveness and dean of technical programs. Before joining M State, Erickson held administrative roles and faculty positions at Heald College in Portland, Ore., and also taught at Mt. Hood Community College in Oregon. Prior to entering the field of education, Erickson was an electrical and biomedical engineer focusing on test engineering, systems engineering and research into high-frequency ultrasound.

Erickson earned a doctoral degree in higher education from Concordia University in Portland, Ore. He holds an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Davis, and a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Iowa.

Sue Gerber has over 20 years of experience in higher education, including both faculty and administrative positions. Currently, she serves as AVP for Institutional Effectiveness, Assessment, and Planning at William Paterson University in New Jersey.  Sue works with leadership to foster data-informed decisions and integrate accreditation, assessment, institutional research, and planning throughout the university. In her work, she draws from her background in educational psychology and concepts such as situated cognition and communities of practice. Sue is active in Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and a proud member of Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) and Association for Institutional Research (AIR).

Cari Olson has worked in Higher Education for 20 years. She has held staff positions primarily focused on research, evaluation, assessment and report writing; currently serving as the Director of Institutional Research at Minot State University.  Cari is married and has two children, she is active in her community and enjoys spending time at the lake in the summer months.  She holds a B.S. and M.S. degree from Minot State University and is currently ABD in an institutional analysis program at North Dakota State University.

Past Board Members

Jerald Henderson (President Emeritus)
Melissa Williams (Vice President)
Sadya Khan
Steve Hoagland
Clevette M Ridguard
Tyra Wheeler-Zubia
Robert Wilkinson