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Preparations now underway for University re-accreditation

by Karen A. Grava - December 12, 2005

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ Commission on Institutions of Higher Education will be evaluating the University for reaccreditation in April 2007, and a team of faculty, staff, students, and administrators has already begun preparing.

Reaccreditation by the NEASC takes place every 10 years and is necessary not only for the University’s credibility but also because the state and federal governments require it so students can receive financial aid and faculty can obtain research grants. In addition, employers often ask prospective employees if their university is accredited.

“Reaccreditation is the ‘Good Housekeeping seal of approval’,” says Karla Fox, professor of business administration and special assistant to the provost for reaccreditation.

“It is a review of the quality of educational institutions and programs. It’s an exercise we have to go through and so we are trying to make it as worthwhile as possible by using it as an opportunity for quality improvement.”

The effort is University-wide and includes representatives from all the schools and colleges including the Law School, the School of Social Work, the Health Center, and undergraduate and graduate students.

“All credible institutions from Yale through the community colleges are accredited every 10 years,” says Fox, who is a commissioner of NEASC’s Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.

“Our goal is to get full accreditation with no significant concerns and few overall concerns cited by NEASC.”

The re-evaluation will be based on performance in 11 “standards:” mission and purposes; planning and evaluation; organization and governance; the academic program, including both undergraduate and graduate degree programs, general education, majors, integrity in the award of academic credit, and assessment of student learning; the faculty, including teaching and advising, and scholarship, research, and creative activity; students, including admissions, retention and graduation, and student services; the library and other information resources; physical and technological resources; financial resources; public disclosure; and integrity.

Activities emanating from the reaccreditation effort will include, beginning early in 2006, a review of the University’s 85 centers and institutes. Fox notes that the vice provost for academic administration is working with an advisory group of deans and faculty to review the academic program review process, and develop review criteria for evaluations.

The assessment of student learning activities will also help create faculty awareness of student learning outcomes and assessment needs, she says, and will lead to the formation of an assessment plan oversight/advisory committee, and an online inventory of existing assessment practices.

The reaccreditation process began in fall 2004. Various committees have been appointed to analyze the University’s status on each standard. They must complete their reports by March; a draft University-wide report will be prepared by April; and a revised report by the summer. A NEASC team will visit campus in January 2007, and the result will be announced in April.

More information is available at http://www.neasc.uconn.edu/

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