The MPL Lab is aptly named. Its primary purpose will be to carry on the vision and work of its namesake, Dr. Marjorie Peace Lenn, who as a founding board member of the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) and the founding President & CEO of the Center for Quality Assurance in International Education (CQAIE) was one of the most innovative and forward thinkers on the globalization of higher education and its quality assurance systems. In the late 1980s and early 90s, Marjorie had an inherent understanding of how advances in technology were changing not only the delivery of education but also its ability to more easily cross borders. She also understood that finding ways to assure students that the colleges and universities they attended were acceptable in the eyes of their future employers was an imperative, because the world as a workplace was also globalizing. Thus, there had to be an improved way of understanding and measuring the equity of education across borders.
Because Dr. Lenn’s vision required immediate action, her creation of the CQAIE as a US-based not-for-profit organization in 1991 provided her with a way to offer direct service to countries hoping to develop or enhance their quality assurance systems. As a result, she worked with well over 50 governments and ministries in every region of the world from Asia to the Middle East to Latin America and Africa. The Center also focused on issues related to the globalization of the professions, such as barriers to the mobility of professionals wishing to practice their area of expertise across national borders. On these issues, she assisted QA agencies in the review and revision of their standards so that the development mutual recognition agreements across borders might be possible. Finally, the Center monitored issues of quality in the transnational movement of higher education so that identified problems could be dealt with and future problems avoided.
Through her career in QA in higher education, Dr. Lenn focused on the building of relationships by connecting people and organizations who wanted to foster excellence in higher education and build cross-cultural and cross-border understandings of quality and how it could be assessed. Not only did she work with already established accrediting agencies alerting them to the impact that the globalization of higher education would have on their work, but she also was sought out by intergovernmental organizations such as OECD, UNESCO, the World Bank, as well as an advisor to the US government on trade in education as a service.
Dr. Lenn died of cancer in 2010, but it is the hope of all who knew her that the MPL Lab will move the mission of the Center into the future through connecting those who think innovatively about what currently is and what could be tomorrow’s view of QA in higher education, those who strive for excellence and the continual improvement in what is offered to students, and those who seek out the very best information on how to get started on the journey.