In June 2001, Dr. Robert Barr accepted an appointment as Executive Director of Institutional Research and Planning at the two-college Foothill-De Anza Community College District in California’s Silicon Valley. At FHDA, Dr. Barr directed a staff of five professionals. He served FHDA for nine years before leaving in May 2009 to focus more of his time and energy on the study of organizational dynamics in higher education and to speak and write about how organizational changes can dramatically improve student learning and success. Dr. Barr now also consults in institutional research and in business intelligence and analytic reporting for community colleges. Prior to joining FHDA, Dr. Barr served for nearly fifteen years as Director of Institutional Research and Planning at Palomar College in San Marcos, another large California community college. While at Palomar he also served as an adjunct math instructor. Prior to joining Palomar College, Dr. Barr served as a director of research and planning for three universities. Since joining the California Community Colleges he has directed the Learning Assessment Retention Consortium (LARC) Math Student Outcomes Study involving 30 California Community Colleges and 20,000 students and served for four years as a Chancellor's Office state evaluator for Middle College High School demonstration projects. He has participated in twelve accreditation evaluation teams and has served for many years on statewide Community College Commissions and Task Forces and for 10 years was one of the leaders for the Research and Planning Group of the California Community Colleges (the RP Group). During the past twenty years, Dr. Barr has made numerous presentations at State and National conferences and at colleges throughout California, the U.S., and Canada explaining and promoting a shift from an instruction paradigm to a learning paradigm. The Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA), The RP Group, and the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges have published articles by Dr. Barr on the shift in 1993 and 1994. Change magazine published his full-length article (with John Tagg) "From Teaching to Learning: a New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education" in its November/December 1995 issue. An editorial in the March/April 1997 issue of Change noted, “No recent article in Change has attracted the attention of [this article], which has been reproduced for countless conferences and faculty meetings.” Tom Angelo, a national expert on higher education and keynote speaker at the January 1999 Learning Paradigm conference, declared, "[This] article is probably the most influential article in higher education of this decade." Dr. Barr has published a number of follow-up articles including, "Obstacles to Implementing the Learning Paradigm: What It Takes to Overcome Them," in the Sept/Oct 1998 issue of About Campus. Dr. Barr is the 1996 recipient of the Norman C. Harris Award from the University of Michigan School of Education in recognition of distinguished contributions and leadership in the community colleges and the 1998 Practitioner Award from the National Council for Research and Planning of the American Association of Community Colleges for significant contributions in the application of research and planning to institutional decision making.
Dr. Barr received his bachelor's degree (physics) from the University of Detroit, his master's degree (philosophy) from Wayne State University, and his Ph.D. (higher education) from the University of Michigan.