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SU moving forward with Middle States self-study
SU moving forward with Middle States self-studyNovember 08, 2006Patrick Farrellpmfarrel@syr.edu
Since late last summer, Syracuse University has been fully engaged in the self-study phase of its decennial evaluation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Middle States is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States that evaluate institutions as a whole (instead of individual programs). The decennial evaluation is based on a comprehensive and detailed self-study report prepared by the institution.
The framework for SU’s self-study report was developed after broad consultation within the University community and approved by a 31-person steering committee of faculty and staff members, students and members of the greater Syracuse community. Beginning last spring, the steering committee, chaired by Sandra Hurd, associate provost and professor of law and public policy in the Whitman School of Management, designed the self-study based on a selected topics model, which divides the process into four topic areas, each to be the focus of a study group. The self-study design was reviewed and approved by Middle States.
The selected topics approach provides an excellent opportunity to involve people from every corner of the University community in the process of developing a more sophisticated understanding of the University’s vision, articulated as Scholarship in Action, as it applies to faculty development and graduate and undergraduate education.
“The timing of the self-study process works to SU’s advantage by allowing the University to leverage important work already under way to improve a number of areas, including institutional climate, academic integrity, the creation of a ‘summer university’ and the development of the new Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA),” says Hurd. “Because it will coincide with the first-year implementation of the responsibility center management (RCM) budget system, the study will help develop measures of RCM’s effectiveness in supporting the University’s vision.”
The institutional self-study is being conducted by four study groups of faculty, staff and students. Study-group appointments were made collaboratively by the study-group chairs and were subject to review and approval by Middle States. The study group members were chosen based on experience and background while ensuring the groups represented a broad range of perspectives.
Group members were chosen based on their experience and background relative to the following four study areas:
? institutional resources, planning and assessment
? faculty and graduate excellence
? undergraduate education
? institutional context and educational effectiveness compliance
Following the selected topics model for self-study, the compliance study group will focus on documenting SU’s compliance with Middle States’ 14 accreditation standards; the other three study groups will focus exclusively on improving the University through the examination of a series of research questions posed by the steering committee and framed within the context of Scholarship in Action. (For details about the study groups and research questions, visit http://middlestates.syr.edu.)
The study groups will gather and analyze data, develop recommendations that are clearly supported by evidence, and produce drafts of reports. Final drafts of the study group reports will be delivered to the steering committee next summer. The Middle States team campus visit is scheduled for April 2008; Middle States Commission action on reaccredidation is expected by summer 2008.
New this year to SU’s decennial Middle States evaluation is a website dedicated to informing and supporting the review process. The website (http://middlestates.syr.edu) was developed by OIRA and will serve as a clearinghouse for all Middle States-related information for the SU community.
“The SU Middle States website provides a link between the work of the study groups and the steering committee, and the University community,” says OIRA Director Barbara Yonai. “New information will be added to the website as it becomes available, and there will be an opportunity through the website to provide feedback as reports are developed.”
The website will support the study groups by serving as a central repository for information about procedures, schedules, source documents, official forms, benchmark and assessment data, annual reports and other University publications, as well as documents specific to the Middle States process.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is a voluntary, non-governmental, peer-based membership association dedicated to educational excellence and improvement through peer-evaluation and accreditation. Middle States accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region of the United States, which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and several locations abroad.
Accreditation is a means of self-regulation and peer review adopted by the educational community. The accrediting process is intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence. Accreditation is a voluntary process;institutions choose to apply for accredited status. Once accredited, participating institutions agree to abide by the standards of their accrediting organization and to regulate themselves by taking responsibility for their own improvement. In addition, the federal government requires that an institution be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting organization in order for its students to be eligible to participate in the Student Assistance Programs in Title IV of the Higher Education Act, as amended (HEA).
For more information about Syracuse University’s decennial Middle States evaluation program, visit http://middlestates.syr.edu or contact Associate Provost Sandra Hurd at (315) 443-1899 or firstname.lastname@example.org.