Through his work, Richard Marion Summerville has become recognized as the leading evaluator of adult and continuing education programs offered on U.S. military installations worldwide. He was instrumental in shaping the Military Installation Voluntary Education Review (MIVER) process, which provided an independent third-party assessment of the quality of educational programs being offered on military installations.
MIVER was created after a 1978 report by the U.S. Department of Defense raised concerns about the quality of its education program. This report led to the establishment of standards for adult and continuing education programs offered on military installations.
MIVER is managed by the American Council on Education (ACE), the premier postsecondary educational organization in the United States that provides a unifying voice for all higher education. One of its roles is to facilitate higher education opportunities for military members around the world. Since 1991, Summerville has been a key consultant to ACE on the MIVER project. His job has been to develop the role of MIVER team members selected to participate in MIVER visits and to groom highly qualified academic professionals to be team chairs for these visits. Since 1994, he has represented all past MIVER team chairs on the ACE MIVER governing board that oversees MIVER policy and project implementation. He has also conducted workshops for first-time MIVER team members.
Since 1991 when MIVER was first implemented, close to 200 installations have been visited, 18 of which were personally chaired by Summerville. His efforts as a team chair have directly resulted in: renovation and/or new construction of educational facilities, increased professional staffing in the education centers, expanded and diversified degree programs, better management, and increased visibility of the educational programs offered.
With more than 700,000 students, voluntary education programs on military installations worldwide represent a major segment of the adult and continuing education market in the United States. Summerville’s reputation within the higher education community was essential to overcoming the initial skepticism regarding the MIVER process and, more generally, to dispelling the misunderstandings about the purpose and value of these voluntary education programs. Team recommendations resulting from MIVER site visits have led to significant improvements in the overall management of the military’s adult and continuing education programs. In short, the quality of military voluntary education programs worldwide has been enhanced as a result of Summerville’s leadership with MIVER.
Summerville was selected to chair ACE’s 2003 Research and Comparability Analysis on the Postsecondary Education Program for the Army Continuing Education System. His contributions were key in drafting the report’s findings and helped to provide the support needed to put to rest questions concerning the quality and value of the eArmyU program. The ACE review chaired by Summerville not only influenced policymaking at the highest levels of the U.S. military, it also led to a significant expansion of the online degree program options now available.Summerville is provost emeritus and emeritus distinguished professor of mathematics at Christopher Newport University, Virginia. He earned his Ph.D. in mathematics at Syracuse University in function theory in 1969. He served as chair, department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Armstrong State University (Georgia) and as CNU’s dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences (1980-1982); CNU’s vice president for academic affairs (1982-1992); and CNU’s provost twice (1992-1995 and 2002-2007).
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