Start, Stop, or Grow? A Data-Informed Approach to Academic Program Evaluation and Management

New Book Published by Gray Associates Founder & CEO, Robert Atkins

CONCORD, Mass., May 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Today, GRAY Associates CEO and Founder, Robert Gray Atkins, announced the publication of his first book, titled Start, Stop, or Grow? A Data-Informed Approach to Academic Program Evaluation and Management.

Academic program evaluations change institutions: they drive academic costs, determine who will be hired and let go, what research will be done, and who will be included in campus communities.  Informed program decisions can transform an institution and restore its financial health.

These evaluations influence how our science, culture, and ethics will be handed down from one generation to the next. They also help students succeed and spur economic growth. As a result, institutions face a host of stakeholders, from faculty to U.S. Senators, all who have beliefs about what to teach, but may not understand the markets, economics, or content of the programs they recommend.

Stop, Start, or Grow? provides a roadmap for data-informed program evaluation. It outlines the data required on program markets, economics, and academic outcomes and describes a process for bringing together faculty and administrators to make these vital decisions.

"The difficulty of higher education administration has increased dramatically in recent decades as shifts in the social, political, and economic landscape have outpaced curricular reform. Declining enrollments necessitate budget cuts at the very time that shifting external market priorities require entrepreneurial investment in new programs and educational models. Traditional decision-making tools available to college administrators have not kept pace, and it is not clear which current programs are losing relevance or what new programs can capture student demand.

Start, Stop, or Grow: A Data-Informed Approach to Academic Program Evaluation and Management presents a practical and useful approach to program evaluation and education management for contemporary colleges and universities. Bob Atkins’ approach hits the sweet spot in presenting a clear and succinct plan for balancing shifts in market demand, inspecting program financials, applying institutional academic standards, and forwarding institutional mission. Data-informed decision-making tools are presented squarely within the context of the university’s shared governance as a means of promoting transparent communication and faculty buy-in.  Bob’s approach to program evaluation was instrumental in developing Youngstown State University’s blueprint for facing evolving market challenges by prioritizing which programs to grow, invest, and disinvest. This book is a must-read for all college and university administrators, but particularly those who face tough budgetary decisions due to falling enrollments and shifts in external markets," said Brien N. Smith, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Youngstown State University.

Robert Gray Atkins leads Gray Associates and the development of Gray’s education industry software and services. Bob says, "I’m pleased to share a comprehensive guide to data-informed academic program evaluation and management. Doing program evaluation well is a challenge, but the rewards are great for institutions, faculty, students, and our society."

The book is available to purchase on Amazon today. To learn more, visit

About the Author, Robert Atkins
Since founding Gray Associates, Bob has worked with institutions across all sectors of higher education to develop institutional and programmatic growth strategies, identify new markets, and model program and course economics. He led the design of PES+, Gray’s suite of program evaluation and management software and services. Prior to founding Gray Associates, Bob worked with corporate clients such as AT&T, American Express, HP, and IBM to develop growth strategies, enter new markets, and build their channel organizations.

About Gray Associates 
Gray Associates helps colleges and universities make data-informed decisions about their academic programs. Gray’s PES+ software calculates program economics and integrates the best data on student demand, employer needs, and competitive intensity for the market served by each institution. Faculty and administrative leaders use the software to score, rank, and evaluate programs in a collaborative process that builds consensus on programs to start, sunset, sustain, or grow. With Gray’s tools and processes, institutions identify paths to increase enrollment, revenue, and efficiency, while investing in their mission and strengthening relationships among faculty and administrators.

Jackie Lucas
Vera Voce Communication, For Gray Associates


SOURCE Gray Associates