Vol. 20, No. 13

April 5, 2001

Middle States presents UD with glowing report

Bobby Gempesaw

Michael Middaugh

The University of Delaware made the Dean's List in its recent Middle States Commission on Higher Education reaccredidation review. The review team's final report offers an extremely positive evaluation of the state of the institution in 2001.

UD "has every reason to take enormous pride in what it has accomplished over the past 10 years. A decade ago, it was coming out of a period of considerable turmoil. Today, the University is seen as a national model for the integration of information technology in every aspect of university life: teaching and learning, research and service, academic support and campus administration," the evaluation team wrote.

The report also praised UD's physical plant, which it says, "has few, if any, peers among public universities and would be the envy of most private colleges."

"Better than almost any university we are familiar with, Delaware has a clear sense of what it wants to be, namely, a university that offers a high quality undergraduate education with targeted areas of excellence in graduate education and research," the report says.

The evaluation team wrote that "these substantial achievements could not have happened without extraordinary leadership from the senior administration."

Additionally, the team members said they were "enormously impressed by the high level of morale that pervades the faculty, staff and students. Almost without exception, the people we spoke to take great pride in being part of the University."

This two-part self-study and reaffirmation process occurs every 10 years. In 1921, when the Middle States Association was formed, the University of Delaware was among the first institutions accredited by the group, and it has been continuously accredited since that time.

The self-study was led by a Steering Committee co-chaired by Bobby Gempesaw, vice provost for academic programs and planning, and Michael Middaugh, assistant vice president for institutional research and planning.

The 10-member evaluation team, led by William E. Kirwan, president of Ohio State University, visited the campus Feb. 25-28.

President David P. Roselle said, "The comments of the evaluation team reflect the spirit of enthusiasm and commitment among faculty, staff, students, parents and friends that has lifted the University to a new level of excellence."

The report takes a close look at a variety of specific areas, including facilities, technology, educational programs, student services, learning resources and governance.

All have been strategic priorities for the University over the last decade:

  • to provide competitive compensation for faculty and staff;

  • to provide enhanced access for undergraduates through increased financial aid;

  • to promote a student-centered campus; and

  • to provide leading-edge facilities for teaching, research and learning.

"There is no question that the goal of competitive compensation for faculty and staff has been met," the evaluation team report said, "as salaries for faculty and professional and salaried staff have risen from the lowest quartile for similar doctoral universities to the top quartile within the past decade.

"The University can also be proud of the progress towards meeting the goal of access. Over the past nine years, it has increased its funds for undergraduate scholarships and financial aid by 213 percent, while room and board rates have been kept very affordable.

"In addition, the University has made great strides towards meeting the goal of a student-centered campus, particularly in the ways it has focused its energies on undergraduate education.

"Further, major resources have been committed to improving the physical plant to better the climate for student life and student learning. The University has renovated every classroom so that it has the same computing and audiovisual capabilities as would be found in a new classroom building, and it has put its physical plant on a program of 'scheduled' as opposed to 'deferred' maintenance."

Other highlights of the report focus on:

Facilities– UD "has done an extraordinary job of building and creating facilities which support the use of technology in all aspects of the University's mission. The recently opened Gore Hall is but one outstanding example of this effort. The team was impressed not just by the quality of the facilities but by the care taken to ensure the architectural integrity of the entire campus."

Technology–UD "enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a national leader for technology innovation.... The high priority given to the development of a world-class information technology infrastructure will help faculty and academic departments meet the changing needs of instruction in coming years. Delaware is to be commended for its enthusiasm and commitment to instructional innovation through technology."

Student services–UD "offers an impressive array of high quality student academic and support services running the gamut from study abroad and honors programs to a national model 'one stop' student service center to a broader range of state-of-the-art online support advising and registration systems. The quality of those services is evident in the high rankings the University receives by national norms in student satisfaction surveys."

Learning resources–The "Morris Library and its four branches is acknowledged by its peers...as a comprehensive research library that effectively supports the teaching, research and service missions of the University.... Library staff shares a deep commitment to providing high quality collaborative services to users."

The self-study steering committee overseen by Gempesaw and Middaugh included participation by 90 faculty, professionals, staff and students in a variety of task forces. Those were chaired by John Byrne, urban affairs and public policy, Faculty Task Force; Pam Beeman, health and nursing sciences, Student Task Force; Alan Fox, philosophy, Educational Program and Curriculum Task Force; James Oliver, Unidel Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Library and Learning Resources Task Force; Ann McNeil, health and exercise sciences, and Karen Bauer, institutional research and planning, Institutional Effectiveness and Outcomes Task Force; Jeff Quirico, provost's office, Planning and Resource Allocation Task Force; Lonnie Hearn, information technologies/ media services, Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources Task Force.

Staff support was provided by Marcia Watson-Whitmyre, Karen DeMonte, Linda Graham and Maggie Masso and IT support by Leila Lyons.

–Neil Thomas