Report Cites B.C.'s Strengths And Progress

University is reaccredited

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

University President William P. Leahy, SJ, has announced that the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges has issued a report formally reaccrediting Boston College.

In a Dec. 2 letter to Fr. Leahy, CIHE Chairman Walter Eggers said, "A firmly established and operative mission within the Jesuit tradition of liberal education informs virtually every area of the University," and that "the institution benefits from highly competent and focused administrative leadership."

"I am enormously pleased with the reaccreditation report, which I believe not only underscores the progress achieved in recent years but reinforces the importance of recent initiatives," Fr. Leahy said. "The self-study provided a comprehensive overview of Boston College's strengths and challenges, and it is fair to say that the members of a very distinguished visiting committee were simultaneously surprised but also very favorably impressed at how much Boston College has accomplished. They gave us excellent advice on the issues we face as we move to the next level."

The decadal reaccreditation process began last year. It included a self-study by the University and a site visit earlier this year by a nine-member team of CIHE representatives. Team members reviewed the University's academic, administrative and construction plans, and held forums to discuss issues within the University community. After evaluating results from the self-study and site visit, CIHE decided at its Nov. 7 meeting that the University should retain its accreditation.

The report praised BC for its "effective planning and financial management processes," and cited Project Delta as an example. Delta, CIHE said, is "extremely forward-looking and may well become a model for other large and complex post-secondary institutions as they re-engineer non-academic processes and services for greater efficiency."

The commission also said BC "benefits greatly from a productive and highly dedicated faculty supportive of the University's academic goals with an unusually strong degree of commitment to undergraduate teaching and still higher quality graduate programs."

CIHE took note of its team's finding that the University "has a comprehensive system of student services staffed by professionals who share the Boston College philosophy of student development."

Other assets, CIHE said, include an "impressive physical plant" with high-quality management and maintenance. The report also noted "a tradition of sophisticated long-range and comprehensive financial planning, together with astute management, [which] enables the University to achieve very positive annual operating results, as well as a strong balance sheet and capital base."

The self-study described how the University is meeting the commission's standards, as well as the major initiatives and trends affecting the institution, said Associate Academic Vice President Robert Newton, who chaired the self-study steering committee. These include Project Delta, the proposed Middle Campus Project - which would add a new academic building and student center to the campus - and the $260 million investment in academic programs Fr. Leahy announced at the outset of the current academic year.

Eggers, in his letter to Fr. Leahy, said CIHE commended the University for "its thorough self-study, reflecting the institution's careful and accurate evaluation of itself and its future."

"We told them what was on our mind and asked them to send a group of experts who could give us an objective reaction to our aspirations and plans," Newton added. "I think it worked well. They were impressed with how far we have come, but also candid about how much more we must do to achieve our goals."

Although Boston College is not due for another reaccreditation until 2007, it is commission policy to ask institutions to submit an interim report after five years. Boston College's document, CIHE said, should include updates on initiatives such as the implementation of Project Delta and the integration of student life and academic programs, particularly in regard to the proposed Middle Campus Project.

The commission also asked the University to detail its transition to a major research institution in the interim report by assessing its progress in several areas. One will be appropriate faculty involvement in the University's implementation of its plans, the commission said. Other areas of focus will include efforts to promote diversity among the faculty and senior administration, and sustain the quality of undergraduate instruction as measured through assessment techniques.

CIHE, which last accredited Boston College in 1986, is one of five commissions forming NEASC, 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.

Copies of the commission's letter are available to faculty and staff through the Office of the Academic Vice President.

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