The National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness (NILIE) is the first and only research organization whose primary objective is to help community college leaders assess their institution’s campus climate. Campus climate assessment offers a gateway through which leaders can better understand their institution’s culture, employee experiences, and overall capacity to effectively promote student success. The NILIE staff conducts the entire survey process including online survey administration, participant reminders, data analysis, and report creation, providing a simple
and fully-customizable experience to our partners.


The National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness (NILIE) provides support for community colleges through research and sharing of promising practices that enhance leadership development, institutional effectiveness, and student success.


The National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness (NILIE) aims to be a national leader in supporting institutional change and effectiveness.


  • Integrity of Research
  • Partnership and Collaboration
  • Continuous Improvement


  • Provide community colleges with comprehensive institutional climate assessment at an affordable cost.
  • Share knowledge that equips community college leaders to facilitate decision-making regarding institutional change.
  • Partner with community colleges to provide services that respond to current needs related to institutional climate.

Our History

The National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness (NILIE) was established in 1990 at the University of Texas-Austin by Dr. George A. Baker III. Dr. Baker’s vision for NILIE included three elements: a high-quality research program focused on leadership and institutional effectiveness; services to institutions of higher education, especially community colleges, in the form of climate assessments, consultation, conferences and publications; and opportunities for graduate students to learn and grow through research experience. Dr. Baker brought NILIE and the PACE Climate Survey for Community Colleges (formerly known as the Personal Assessment of the Campus Environment) to North Carolina State University (NC State) in 1992. 

George Baker

Shortly after its arrival at NC State, NILIE focused its offerings on the PACE Climate Survey as its primary service. With the rise of online survey tools, creating and distributing surveys became easier than ever before. As a result, competing assessment surveys emerged rapidly. During this time of market saturation, NILIE leadership set out to strengthen the organization’s competitive advantage. This was accomplished by tapping into a wide network of partners to understand their needs while simultaneously leveraging the survey design and psychometric expertise of NILIE affiliates over the years. 

Throughout the late-1990s and 2000s, NILIE continued to provide the best climate survey instrument while meeting the unique needs of its partners. The survey moved to a fully online format with the addition of optional subscales highlighting critical climate-related issues. Over time, community colleges became NILIE’s primary client base. This provided the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of the distinct needs of these institutions, which could be built into the design of future iterations of the instrument and additional services. As new issues arose in the community college environment, NILIE updated survey questions and restructured its report formats in 2015 to enable clients to gain deeper insights from their data. Focus on client needs and continuous improvement has contributed to its continued success today. 

In 2019, NILIE continued its operation under the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research at NC State University. Under the direction of Dr. Audrey “AJ” Jaeger, NILIE continues to be at the forefront of campus climate research and assessment. Further, NILIE’s recent reorganization under the Belk Center has opened new opportunities for serving community colleges. NILIE now functions as one component of a larger mission and infrastructure designed to develop exceptional community college leaders who address urgent needs and provide the research and resources needed to solve critical problems of practice facing community colleges. The Belk Center’s portfolio of offerings, including campus climate assessment, executive leadership programs, doctoral education in community college leadership, and a robust research agenda, bring the vision of Dr. Baker full circle by further enhancing the community college partner experience.

Link to Dr. Audrey J. Jaeger Bio