Administration prepares for accreditation visit
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 08:10
Tufts administrators last month released a draft of a university-wide self-study in anticipation of a visit from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) in 2013, when Tufts’ standing as an accredited institution will be evaluated.
The reaccreditation process works on a 10-year cycle, according to Associate Provost for Institutional Research and Evaluation Dawn Terkla, who is chair of the self-study steering committee.
Every institution that receives federal financial aid must be accredited, she said.
NEASC is one of seven regional accreditation organizations across the country, all of which report to the U.S. Department of Education, according to Accreditation Coordinator Lara Quiroga.
The self-study examines 11 accreditation standards prescribed by NEASC, including Tufts’ mission and purpose, academics, governance, students and faculty.
“The self-study is a product of the reaccreditation process ... it’s meant to tell the story of Tufts,” Quiroga said. “[It shows] what we’ve been doing
and what things we want to work on and [looks] at how we do compared to the standards.”
From March 10 to 13, a 10-person team assembled by NEASC will visit campus to review the self-study and speak to members of the Tufts community. The team will be comprised of another university’s president, faculty and staff.
“Then they will write an assessment report, and that report along with the self-study will go to the ... [NEASC Commission on Institutions of Higher Education], and then they will make a determination based on what our status will be going forward,” Terkla said.
The university received notification of its upcoming reaccreditation visit in January 2011, and a kickoff meeting for the self-study was held the following September, according to Terkla.
Eleven working groups were established to evaluate how well Tufts was meeting each standard, according to Terkla.
Group members include a mixture of faculty, staff, deans and students from the Medford/Somerville, Boston and Grafton campuses, according to Quiroga.
Given that the self-study speaks of the university as a whole, it makes note of structural differences and institutional coherence, according to Professor and Chair of the Mathematics Department Boris Hasselblatt, who is also co-chair of the working group in charge of the faculty standard.
“Generally, the real thrust of what the NEASC wants to see is that we have an idea of what it is we want to do and how, and
as a result of having thought about where we stand and what we want to accomplish, that we adapt our approaches accordingly,” Hasselblatt said.
Current preparations for the visit include logistical planning and compiling the necessary materials for the team, such as course syllabi, finance reports and bulletins from each school, Terkla said.
Feedback on the 100-page self-study draft was solicited via an online survey and two meetings that were held last week, according to Terkla.
“We had probably about 10 people attend the two open hearings, and there have been numerous people that have responded to the online option,” she said.
The steering committee will meet today to go over the feedback and determine how it will be incorporated into the final draft, according to Terkla.
Feedback on the self-study has thus far included comments that check on facts and provide updates where projections had been made in the draft, she added.
Terkla noted that the final self-study must be sent to NEASC six weeks in advance of their visit.