The University will be evaluated by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, one of five commissions which form the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The oldest of the six accrediting associations in the United States, NEASC accredits more than 1,700 schools, colleges and universities in the six-state region and supports and encourages opportunities for educational collaboration.
As part of the reaccreditation process, the University will conduct a self-study that will gauge its compliance w ith the 11 CIHE Standards for Accreditation and focus on broad institutional issues. The study will lay the groundwork for a campus visit March 9-12 by NEASC representatives, who will discuss its facets with members of the University community.
The two committees, whose membership will be announced shortly, will consist of administrators, faculty and students. An 11-member steering committee, to be chaired by Associate Academic Vice President Robert Newton, will oversee the self-study process as a whole, while another committee of 20 members will address the CIHE standards.
The University arranged with CIHE to replace the more traditional comprehensive self-study with the more focused process, Fr. Neenan said, because it will dovetail with several current University initiatives combining academic and administrative resources: the University Academic Planning Council report on long-term academic goals; Project Delta's examination of the University s efficiency and productivity; and the proposed Middle Campus P roject, which entails construction of a new academic building adjacent to a renovated student center.
These "areas of emphasis" will form the core of the self-study, Fr. Neenan said, which must be completed by January.
"We have chosen this particular route so that we may meet the association s criteria," he said, "and utilize the distinguished accrediting team to advise us on these important initiatives. This is a felicitous merging of goals.
"The University used this same approach for the last NEASC accreditation during the 1985-86 academic year," Fr. Neenan pointed out. "The self-study was done in conjunction with the Goals for the '90s project, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences study, and the Strategic Planning for Computing and Communications and Lower Campus Facilities Planning initiatives."
The 11 CIHE standards Newton's committee will review cover institutional mission and purpose, planning and evaluation, organization and governance, faculty, student services, library and information resources, physical resources, financial resources, programs and instruction, integrity, and public disclosure. However, Newton points out, over the past decade the commission has placed an increasing emphasis on an institution's ability to assess progress in these areas.
"There is more of a focus on outcomes," he said. "They expect the institution to have clearly defined goals and objectives, but also that these are being monitored and the results are utilized to effect improvements."
Return to May 9 menu
Return to Chronicle Home Page