Vol. 20, No. 18

July 19, 2001

UD asked to share accreditation
know-how with colleagues

The University of Delaware received a rave review this spring from a Middle States Commission on Higher Education reaccreditation team, and two UD administrators now have been invited to help prepare other institutions nationally for their evaluations.

Bobby Gempesaw, vice provost for academic programs and planning, and Michael Middaugh, assistant vice president for institutional research and planning, will be featured at a Self-Study Institute to be hosted this fall in Philadelphia by the Middle States Commission.

The pair chaired UD's nine-member steering committee that oversaw production of the institutional self-review and planning document.

"This is a major affirmation of the University of Delaware," Middaugh said. "If an institution has never gone through a self-study process, which is critical to the success of the evaluation and reaccreditation process, the information we have to share will be very helpful and important."

Middaugh explained that there are different models of self-study and each institution must choose one that is most appropriate. He and Gempesaw will explain to conference attendees how to select the proper model, set up a steering committee, write individual reports and transform them into a final document for the visiting team of evaluators. There also will be information on how to schedule activities for evaluators during their three-day site visits.

In addition to three UD-led sessions on "Early Planning," "Self-Study Design and Institutional Involvement" and "Campus Visits: Teams, Hosting and Afterwards," several workshops and instructional sessions will be scheduled at the November meeting.

In addition to being an integral part of the reaccreditation process, Gempesaw said, an institutional self-study is beneficial because it emphasizes internal planning and review.

"A university goes through the self-study process to learn more about itself," he said, "to find out where it is, what it has accomplished, what it needs to do and where it wants to go in the future. It's very important as both a planning and goal-setting document.

"In preparation for the Middle States' visit to Delaware," he said, "UD task forces examined all levels and aspects of the University community."

"Accreditation is a fascinating process," Gempesaw added. "In other countries, government agencies review and evaluate institutions of higher learning. In the U.S., it's a peer review process, an extraordinary way in which we actually help each other."

"One of the beneficial aspects of being involved in the evaluation process," Middaugh said, "is that site team members get to observe the very best operating practices of other institutions. If you serve on such a team, you go into it with the intent of reviewing an institution, but you also come away with exposure to the best ideas that other colleges and universities have to offer. Also, you are able to return home and see if some of those ideas and programs will work at your own institution."

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

UD took a close look at a variety of specific areas, including facilities, technology, educational programs, student services, learning resources and governance. It also viewed strategic priorities the University identified over the last decade, including the ability to:

  • provide competitive compensation for faculty and staff;
  • provide enhanced access for undergraduates through increased financial aid;
  • promote a student-centered campus; and
  • provide leading-edge facilities for teaching, research and learning.

Some comments from the Middle States' evaluation report follow.

On compensation: "There is no question that the goal of competitive compensation for faculty and staff has been met, 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.

On access: "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.

On the physical plant: "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...." UD "has few, if any, peers among public universities and would be the envy of most private colleges."

On information technologies: UD "has every reason to take enormous pride in what it has accomplished over the past 10 years." It referred to UD 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."

On vision and governance: "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.

"These substantial achievements could not have happened without extraordinary leadership from the senior administration."

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 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, 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, Heather Kelly Isaacs and Maggie Masso and IT support by Leila Lyons.

–Neil Thomas and Ed Okonowicz