UD Accreditation Committee seeks input
Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson April 26, 2021
Input requested on self-study document, town halls scheduled May 5, 6
In preparation for the University of Delaware’s accreditation review by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the University of Delaware’s Middle States Steering Committee seeks feedback from the campus community on the draft self-study document. Gathering campus input is an essential part of the preparation for the on-campus site visit in the fall of 2021.
Campus and community stakeholders are invited to review the draft at www.udel.edu/middlestates, and offer comments via an online form by May 15, 2021. MSCHE outlines specific guidance for the self-study report, charging the Steering Committee with ensuring that the document be organized, analytical, concise (no more than 100 pages, single spaced), fair and honest. MSCHE now also requires institutions to provide up to 15 additional pages to reflect on the University’s response to and impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to the online comment form, two virtual town halls are scheduled for current University students, faculty and staff. Pre-registration is required; after registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
The same information will be provided at each session: an overview of the accreditation process, a general overview of each standard of accreditation, review of UD’s response to the COVID-19 response through the lens of Middle States, and the steering committee’s suggested self-recommendations. Participants are asked to read the self-study prior to attending the town halls.
Wednesday, May 5, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.: Register in advance
Thursday, May 6, 11:00 a.m. – Noon: Register in advance
During the town halls, participants will be able to use the chat to provide feedback and/or sign up to speak. Participants will be asked to reference the standard and criterion that corresponds to their input.
In March 2019, the University announced the start of the review process, outlining an original timeline for the 18 months ahead of the external review team’s site visit in spring 2021. However, the original timeline was adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the external review team’s now virtual visit in fall 2021.
Given the size and scope of the institution, UD chose a standards-based approach to facilitate the development of the self-study and its evaluation. Middle States provides the following summary of the standards: “An accredited institution of higher education has an appropriate mission (I), lives it with integrity (II), delivers an effective student learning experience (III) and supports the overall student experience, both inside and outside of the classroom (IV). An accredited institution of higher education also assesses its own educational effectiveness (V), uses planning and resources to ensure institutional improvement (VI) and is characterized by effective governance, leadership and administration (VII).”
The Self-Study Steering Committee was charged to collectively lead the effort to engage the broader University of Delaware community in the self-study. In addition to coordinating the efforts of the six working groups, the Steering Committee was responsible for addressing Standard 1. Each of the six working groups was assigned to one of the remaining six standards.
Working groups conducted a robust review and evaluation of the University’s programs, practices and policies relevant to their MSCHE standard. Each working group was responsible for gathering the evidence that shows how UD meets the criteria for their standard, identifying any gaps in evidence.
In the fall of 2019, self-study working groups solicited input from groups across the University, to inform development of their draft chapters, each focused on one of the seven standards of accreditation. These chapters were reviewed by the Steering Committee over the winter, revised and consolidated into a single document for review in May 2020.
The steering committee released the initial draft of the self-study document in the spring of 2020. At that time, feedback was sought via an online form and several town halls, though questions remained about the accreditation process and the University’s self-study process given the pandemic. Work was paused to await further guidance from MSCHE. In September 2020, MSCHE released guidance for institutions on how to address the pandemic’s impact in their self-study reports. As such, UD’s steering committee reconvened in January 2021 to begin the process of finalizing the report according to the new guidance.
Input from the UD community and campus stakeholders gathered during the May 2021 input form and town halls are being held in advance of the preliminary visit with the chair of the external review team in June 2021. This will allow UD time to make final edits to the self-study over the summer before the external site visit in early fall 2021.
For more information visit www.udel.edu/middlestates.
About Middle States Commission on Higher Education
The Mid-Atlantic Region Commission on Higher Education, doing business as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), was formally incorporated under Pennsylvania Commonwealth law on March 1, 2013. From its origins in 1919 through February 2013, the commission was a unit of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Although now an independent corporation, the commission maintains an ongoing relationship with the Middle States Association.
The Commission on Higher Education is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education to conduct accreditation and pre-accreditation (candidacy status) activities for institutions of higher education in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including distance education and correspondence education programs offered at those institutions. MSCHE is also recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to accredit degree-granting institutions which offer one or more postsecondary educational programs of at least one academic year in length in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other geographic areas in which the commission conducts accrediting activities.
The commission is a voluntary, nongovernmental membership association that defines, maintains and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations and resources. It examines each institution as a whole, rather than specific programs within institutions.
UD has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education since 1921, with the most recent Self-Study completed in 2011 and reaffirmation in 2016.
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