Biographical Sketch of Dr. Thomas W. MacFarland



Dr. MacFarland received a Doctor of Education degree from Nova Southeastern University in 1986, majoring in Vocational, Technical, and Occupational Education, and later received an Educational Specialist degree in 1996, majoring in Computer Science Education. His B.S. and M.S. were earned at Western Kentucky University.

Dr. MacFarland currently serves as Senior Research Associate at Nova Southeastern University, a Doctoral I institution that is also the largest independent university in the South. He is also an Associate Professor in Nova Southeastern University's School of Computer and Information Sciences.

His publication on the economic impact of independent postsecondary education in Florida received State-wide attention. This study used Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data as a primary resource. IPEDS data were used because of their reliability, depth of coverage, and availability. Although some participating institutions expressed concern about the most appropriate data resources for this report, Dr. MacFarland reminded key personnel that IPEDS data are in the public domain, minimizing the concern about the confidentiality of financial and other data.

Using a 2.2 multiplier, Dr. MacFarland demonstrated that the 22 institutions associated with The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) had a $2.4 billion economic impact on Florida's economy during Fiscal Year 1994-95. Using Fiscal Year 1993-94 IPEDS data posted on the Internet, it was estimated (using a 2.2 multiplier) that the annual impact of all 31 regionally accredited independent colleges and universities in Florida on the state's economy was approximately $4.7 billion in Fiscal Year 1994-95. Had a more liberal multiplier been used (e.g., 3.0), as some colleges and universities use, the annual impact of all regionally accredited independent colleges and universities in Florida on the state's economy would have approximated $6.2 billion in Fiscal Year 1994-95. This study was replicated in 2001 and it is now estimated that the collection of all independent four-year colleges and universities in Florida is responsible for a $7.8 billion impact on Florida's economy. As an outgrowth of this study, Dr. MacFarland has also developed a comprehensive Fact Book for the 24 institutions association with The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF), using extant IPEDS data as the primary resource. This system-wide Fact Book has also been made available to the public.

Along with the use of IPEDS data, Dr. MacFarland has extensive experience working with other large data sets that support measures of Institutional Effectiveness. During the University's recent process for reaffirmation of regional accreditation, Dr. MacFarland served on the Self-Study Steering Committee as Data Coordinator. Under his direction, Research and Planning processed over 6,000 valid surveys, resulting in over 1.5 million unique data points. It was judged that the process provided a representative sample of the University and its faculty, staff, students, and graduates. Return rates for each queried group were acceptable and there was no evidence of bias in survey responses. Survey results were later incorporated into the University's Self-Study report.

Dr. MacFarland also completed a University-wide assessment of learning outcomes of campus-based and distance education students. This comprehensive study was based on an empirical analysis of the matriculation of over 10,000 students in four academic centers over a five-year period. This study provided the University with evidence that distance education students were not at a disadvantage when compared to their campus-based counterparts. Quite the contrary, it was determined that distance education students exceeded their campus-based counterparts in terms of successful matriculation.

Revised May 2002

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