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First Annual Program Evaluation Symposium Highlights Emerging Trends in Evaluation

February 20, 2014

The Curtis Research and Training Center at the School of Social Work hosted the first annual Program Evaluation Symposium on Friday, February 14, 2014.  This day-long event was organized by the Program Evaluation Group and culminated with a keynote address by the President of the American Evaluation Symposium (AEA), Dr. Beverly Parsons.

Dr. Parson's keynote, "Visionary Evaluation for a Sustainable, Equitable Future," highlighted the need for systems thinking, buidling new relationships, and an emphasis on sustainable, equitable living in evaluation. After the keynote address, attendees were invited to participate in small group discussions based on the topic of the keynote. Dr. Parsons will use feedback from the event to inform the direction of the AEA Annual Conference.

Highlights of the day included:

  • Over 120 community and University members participated in the symposium.
  • Community Involvement: Participants of the Program Evaluation Symposium included: professional evaluators from around the state of Michigan, graduate students interested in evaluation from a variety of disciplines, users of evaluation from organizations around the state, faculty members, and many more. As an event that brought together community and University members, this fostered collaboration and relationship building.
  • Innovation in Student Learning: In conjunction with the Program Evaluation Symposium, a mini-course led by Professor Sue Ann Savas, Director of the Curtis Center Program Evaluation Group, was offered to current MSW students at the School of Social Work. Twenty students participated in a day-long course about evaluation theory and practice prior to the symposium and were participants at the Program Evaluation Symposium. This innovative structure allowed the students the opportunity to network with and learn from professional evaluators and evaluation users, while also gaining knowledge and skills in program evaluation.
  • Workshops from Professional Evaluators: Two workshops were offered in the morning: (1) Stakeholder-Based Data Interpretation, by Karin Tice, PhD, Amy McNulty, MA, and Priscilla Cortez, MSW, from Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA), an evaluation firm based in Ann Arbor, MI; and (2) Developmental Evaluation and Strategic Capacity by Lesli Hoey, PhD, from the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

The Program Evaluation Group will be inviting the AEA president every year for the continuation of the Program Evaluation Symposium as an annual event.

Please view the video of Dr. Parson's keynote address, feel free to like and share. For more information, contact

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