Reaccreditation Process Enters Final Stages

Site visit completed

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Following an evaluation earlier this month by a site visit team which met with University administrators, faculty and students, Boston College has entered the final stages of its reaccreditation process.

The nine-member team of educators, representing the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, visited the campus March 9-12 to assess the thoroughness and accuracy of a self-study the University performed as part of its reaccreditation. Team members reviewed the University's academic, administrative and construction plans, and held forums to discuss issues within the University community.

While the decision concerning BC's reaccreditation will not be announced until later this year, administrators and faculty said the visit had left a positive impression.

"We had been pleased with the caliber of the team even before they arrived and were equally impressed during the visit," said Associate Academic Vice President Robert Newton, chairman of the steering committee for the self-study. "The members approached the visit with a lot of enthusiasm and were clearly interested in Boston College. In a very short period, they seemed to develop an excellent understanding of BC's strengths, challenges and ambitions.

"This was quite important from our standpoint," Newton continued, "because we felt the reaccreditation process was a way to receive some valuable perspective on our institutional goals."

The visit included an intensive two-day schedule of meetings between team members and an assortment of Boston College representatives. While some meetings were held to discuss the self-study and BC's compliance with the CIHE accreditation standards, others focused on topics such as the campus physical plant, the University Academic Planning Council and Project Delta initiatives, financial resources and student affairs.

"The members were well-prepared, they had some good questions and were zeroed in on BC," said Monan Professor of Education Philip Altbach, who attended two of the sessions. "One of the major themes in these discussions was, 'You have all these ambitions, so how do you intend to fulfill them?' But they seemed quite impressed that, in this age of downsizing and cutting back, Boston College intends to move ahead."

Prof. Laurel Eisenhauer (SON), who along with Altbach served on one of two committees involved in the self-study, said the evaluators also touched on areas like faculty governance, and the promotion and tenure process.

"They saw their role as primarily being helpful," Eisenhauer said. "It's important to keep in mind that in the reaccreditation process, just because a question is asked does not mean there is a problem. A site visit team is looking for consistency, for as much detail about the institution to help them form an adequate picture of it."

The team also held open forums separately for faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, Newton said, to help foster an even broader range of discussion. Their visit concluded on March 12 with an oral report at a session with University President William P. Leahy, SJ.

CIHE, which last accredited Boston College in 1986, is one of five commissions forming the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the oldest of the six accrediting associations in the United States. The commission's standards encompass areas such as institutional mission and purpose, planning and evaluation, programs and instruction, integrity, and public disclosure.

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