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The College Stress Test

by Ad Astra

Dive into The College Stress Test, an assessment of institutional viability that’s providing an urgently needed road map during a time when the higher education terrain is shifting. Listen to authors, Robert Zemsky, Susan Shaman, and Susan Campbell Baldridge, as they discuss:

  • The importance of enrollment on financial and institutional risk
  • The value of enrollment health and student retention on institutional performance
  • Characteristics of winners and losers in stress testing 

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Download the presentation here.

Meet Our Speakers


Robert Zemsky
Professor and Chair of The Learning Alliance Higher Education
University of Pennsylvania

In The Chronicle for Higher Education Robert Zemsky once described himself as someone "old and round enough to be mistaken for a pooh-bah." In a fifty-year career he has pioneered the use of market analyses for higher education, served as the University of Pennsylvania’s chief planning officer and as the founding director of Penn’s Institute for Research on Higher Education, as the Convener of the Pew Higher Education Roundtable, as Chair of The Learning Alliance, and as a member of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Commission On The Future Of Higher Education (better known as the Spellings Commission). More recently he has focused on what globalism might mean for higher education, on what technology has not accomplished, and on how to make learning more important in the higher education marketplace. Professor Zemsky’s Making Reform Work: The Case for Transforming American Higher Education (2009) has become a frequently quoted guide outlining the challenges facing American higher education, as has his Checklist for Change published by Rutgers University Press in the summer of 2013. Rutgers also published his Making Sense of the College Curriculum written with Gegory Wegner and Ann Duffield.His most recent work includes his and Susan Shaman’s The Market Imperative published by Johns Hopkins Press and The College Stress Test with Susan Shaman and Susan Baldridge also by Johns Hopkins Press.   

Professor Zemsky earned his B.A. from Whittier College in 1962 and a Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 1966. In 1998 he received a Doctor of Humane Letters (Hon.) from Towson University and in 2008 a Doctor of Humane Letters (Hon.) from Franklin and Marshall College. In 2008 he retired from the Board of Trustees of Franklin and Marshall College after 25 years of service.  That same year he was elected to the Board of Trustees of Whittier College, his alma mater.  In 2011 Professor Zemsky was elected to the Sage Colleges Board of Trustees.  

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Susan Shaman
Former Director of Institutional Research
University of Pennsylvania

Susan Shaman began her career in Institutional Research as a founding member of the IR office at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1974. After moving to Philadelphia in 1978 she worked as an analyst in Temple University’s IR department.  A year later, Robert Zemsky, professor and Penn’s Chief Planning Officer, lured her to the University of Pennsylvania.  At Penn Ms. Shaman held the title Director of Institutional Research, and later, Assistant Vice President for Planning Analysis.  When Dr. Zemsky formed the Institute for Research on Higher Education (IRHE) in the mid-1980s, Ms. Shaman split her responsibilities between IR and managing special projects at IRHE.  In 2000, she left Penn to become Partner and Special Research Analyst for the consulting organization, Peach Bottom Group.   

Ms. Shaman, along with Robert Zemsky and Susan Campbell Baldridge, is the author of The College Stress Test (JHU Press Feb. 2020.)  In addition, with Zemsky, she co-authored The Market Imperative (JHU Press Dec. 2017).  She also has number of monographs and articles to her credit.  Ms. Shaman holds a master’s degree in Mathematical Statistics from Columbia University. 

Susan Baldridge_Final

Susan Campbell Baldridge
Professor of Psychology, Former Provost
Middlebury College

Dr. Susan Campbell Baldridge has worked at Middlebury College for over 26 years as a Professor of Psychology, and has served in a variety of administrative capacities, including Dean of the Faculty, Vice President for Strategy and Planning, and Executive Vice President and Provost.  

Now, Dr. Baldridge is also a strategic consultant working with educational institutions to develop strategy and execute change. In this role, she draws on her doctorate in Social Psychology as well as her extensive experience as a faculty member and administrator in higher education.  

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