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Jamienne S. Studley, who in her six years leading the WASC Senior College and University Commission sought to emphasize transparency and to show that accreditors can encourage rather than stifle innovation, is retiring at the end of this year, the organization announced Thursday.

Studley, a public interest lawyer whose prior higher education roles included the presidency of Skidmore College and a stint as under secretary of education in the Obama administration, sought to center the accreditor’s work around ensuring success for students. One of the ways WSCUC did that was by creating a public “key indicators” dashboard that included important information about the performance of the colleges it monitors.

And while complaints are common that accreditors discourage rather than enable innovative institutions and approaches in higher education, the Western accreditor gave approval to distinctive institutions like Minerva University, among others.

“Jamie has inspired big-picture thinking with practical solutions, synthesizing policy and practice to truly enhance educational quality and effectiveness,” said Tracy Poon Tambascia, the commission’s chair and a professor of higher education at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education.