Insights from the Interns: The CAS Circle

CAS Intern, Lindsey Templeton, shares her thoughts on the purpose of CAS framed by Simon Sinek's (2009) book, Start with Why.
Lindsey Templeton, CAS Staff AssistantAs a new entrant to the field of higher education learning about CAS through a behind-the-scenes internship experience, I find it easiest to contextualize my learning through the ‘Golden Circle' framework of Simon Sinek (2009). Detailed in his book, Start with Why, Sinek (2009) describes the way to inspire others to take action. He believes that those who ‘start with why' and then determine the how and what of their process can more effectively lead others to believe in the power of what they do.

Despite the immediate association of most between CAS and the ‘Blue Book', when I think of my introduction to CAS, it was the values, vision, and structure that initially left me inspired. The why of CAS helped me to both understand and believe in the power of the organization, and in turn, the CAS Professional Standards for Higher Education. Here's how:

The why of CAS is simply stated: to guide higher education practitioners in their work with college students. CAS believes in enhancing quality student learning and development. Who in our field doesn't believe in that?

How do we guide practitioners? How do we impact student learning and development? In efforts to work towards these overarching goals, I believe the vision and mission of CAS best showcase the how:
Setting the quality standards for higher education

CAS, a consortium of professional associations in higher education, promotes the use of its professional standards for the development, assessment, and improvement of quality student learning, programs, and services (CAS, 2015).

The how of CAS is centered on creating and promulgating standards for practitioners across the field. When CAS was founded 37 years ago, the leaders of a handful of associations came to the realization that student learning and development could be impacted at a higher level by effectively training professionals. Even better, they realized that they couldn't do it alone. Banded together, they had more collective expertise and the potential for collaboration and consensus – two important values that have contributed to the CAS how ever since.

These processes have since expanded, encompassing 42 member associations and an Executive Committee. These constituents use their expertise to create and revise the standards on a regular basis to remain current. CAS relies on these individuals to set the quality standards and promote them to carry out the why – enhanced quality student learning and development.

What does this look like in practice? Built on these foundations is the what of CAS, better known as the infamous ‘Blue Book', or the CAS Professional Standards for Higher Education. This book is a deliverable for professional development that provides a system for self-regulation and accountability.

In addition to the CAS Professional Standards, CAS offers Self-Assessment Guides (SAGs), resources on Learning Outcomes, Statements on Professional Excellence and Statements on Ethical Principles (all housed in the new ninth edition of the CAS Blue Book!). All of these products are first, a result of the why - the belief that practitioners can impact student learning and development. Second, they are a product of the how - the vision, mission, and people behind the CAS curtain.

As a newer #CASfan, I believe in the CAS why - to enhance college student learning and development. I believe in the CAS how - guiding professionals by setting the standards for quality in higher education. As a result, I also believe in the CAS what - the ‘Blue Book' or CAS Professional Standards for Higher Education. Do you?


Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). (2015). Mission, vision, and purpose. Retrieved from

Sinek, S. (2009). Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. New York, NY: Penguin.


Lindsey L. Templeton is an Intern for the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, and a second-year Master's Student in the Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy Program at the University of Maryland, College Park.