University Launches Middle States Reaccreditation Process
The University has formally begun the process of conducting an institutional assessment and self-study required every 10 years in order to retain its accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
As an initial step in the self-study process, the University on April 15 hosted a campus visit by Tito Guerrero, Middle States staff liaison to Syracuse. The visit included a review of the University’s self-study design and meetings with various campus constituencies, including Chancellor Syverud, Provost-Designate Michele Wheatly and other University leaders, faculty, staff and students.
Middle States accreditation is a critical designation for the University, signaling to its peers and to other stakeholders, including the federal government, that the University is operating acceptably and in accordance with its mission, vision and higher education best practices. It serves as a public indicator of educational quality and institutional accountability. Recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, it also is required in order for Syracuse students to be eligible for federal student aid.
“The Middle States reaccreditation process is a comprehensive undertaking,” says Wheatly. “It is invaluable not only to ensure that we comply with the highest educational standards, but also to spur us to continually improve across all University operations. It also clearly intersects with the three components of Fast Forward Syracuse, evaluating how well we support student learning and retention, instill critical reasoning skills, foster an atmosphere of respect for all and align resources with our stated mission and goals, among other criteria. It is a quality improvement process, and I am confident that the findings and recommendations that emerge will further enhance our capacity to deliver outstanding student learning outcomes.”
The reaccreditation process includes a two-year self-study of the University’s academic and co-curricular programs and functional operations, as well as a peer review by an external team of higher education professionals. The current self-study planning began in the fall of 2015 and will culminate with a final report to Middle States by December 2017. A team visit from a Middle States peer review team will follow in spring of 2018, with final action by Middle States on reaccreditation by fall 2018.
The self-study process—which will identify University strengths as well as areas that can be improved—is designed to be broadly inclusive. Approximately 145 faculty, staff, students and trustees from across the schools, colleges and other institutional units are expected to be involved. A steering committee has been appointed by the Provost’s Office to oversee and coordinate the process and oversee completion of the final self-study report. Steering Committee tri-chairs are Andria Costello Staniec, associate provost for academic programs; Libby Barlow, assistant vice president for research and assessment; and Terry McConnell, professor of mathematics.
The Office of the Provost, in consultation with various campus stakeholders, will appoint seven self-study teams, each focusing on a specific standard as stipulated by Middle States: Mission and Goals; Ethics and Integrity; Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience; Support of Student Experience; Educational Effectiveness Assessment; Planning, Resources and Institutional Improvement; and Governance, Leadership and Administration.
Each team will analyze, within its designated category, the University’s strengths and challenges with regard to Middle States Standards criteria and, where warranted, recommend improvements. Additional teams will be appointed to focus on compliance and on self-study logistics coordination.
In addition to assessing how well Syracuse meets Middle States criteria for reaccreditation, the self-study process is intended to engage the entire campus community in a critical self-evaluation of the University’s educational programs, student services and administrative units. It also will help generate benchmarking data and information that will inform the work of implementing the new Academic Strategic Plan.
For more information on the Middle States reaccreditation process at Syracuse, go to http://middlestates.syr.edu.