Reaccredidation Findings Evaluated
This past week the University went through a comprehensive evaluation facilitated by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), which is responsible for accrediting approximately 240 schools in New England. The University goes through the accreditation process every 10 years.
“The [duty] of NEASC, which is a private organization, is to determine if the quality of each school is good for students,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rob Rosenthal, who is the main liaison between the Commission and the University.
Though the University was last accredited in 2002, there was another evaluation done by the commission in 2007 which was not as comprehensive as accreditation. The commission gave the University feedback in 2007 in preparation for the 2012 accreditation. Recommendations included speculating on the impact of the University’s planned investments in financial aid and ensuring that students make coherent course choices.
For a year and a half prior to this August, the University used a process called self-study for their own evaluation. The self-study was conducted over 18 months and judged the University by 11 different standards, such as academics, integrity, financial resources, public disclosure, and others.
Reaccreditation is intended not only to evaluate the school but also to ensure the self-study’s accuracy.
President of Vassar College and Chair of the Visiting Committee on Accreditation Catharine Hill said that the self-study was clear and thorough. According to Hill, Wesleyan has a strong curriculum, a well-maintained infrastructure, and a loyal staff and student body. The University’s 2020 plan was also praised and deemed a good plan for the future.
However, according to Hill, there are still issues that the University could work on. She noted that graduate programs are not regarded enough in the self-study. According to Rosenthal, students have expressed dissatisfaction with pre-major advising. Such criticisms about pre-major advising were also expressed during the 2002 accreditation.
The University community as a whole—including students, faculty, administration, and staff—is supposed to be heavily involved in the process of self-study and accreditation. Whenever a new draft of the self-study was submitted, it was posted online and was made open to the community for comments. The Committee incorporated these comments into a later draft to post online again. This process continued until the self-study was finalized, which happened shortly before the beginning of the school year.
“The process of doing this has been very useful,” Rosenthal said. “It forces you—if [you] haven’t been doing so already—to really look closely to what your university is doing every 10 years. And a couple of [great] things came out of it, which I think is very useful.”