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Tufts receives reaccreditation

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 11:02


Nicholas Psofi/The Tufts Daily

Tufts University received reaccreditation from the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC) on Sept. 19, 2013, following a vote from NEASC commissioners.

After receiving a Nov. 7, 2013 letter officially confirming reaccreditation, Tufts will continue to receive the federal funding that NEASC provides, according to Associate Provost for Institutional Research and Evaluation Dawn Terkla.

“[Reaccreditation] means our students are eligible for federal financial aid, our faculty is eligible to receive federal research grants and it means that we’ve gotten the stamp of approval from [NEASC] that we’re a quality institution,” Terkla said.

Terkla, who also served as Chair of the 2013 Accreditation Steering Committee, said that the complete accreditation process lasted nearly three years and involved over 200 people from Tufts. The first step involved the creation of a self-study during the 2011-2012 academic year, according to Terkla.

According to the Office of Institutional Research and Evaluation Associate Director Stephanie Topping, the self-study for reaccreditation used data collected from the various Tufts schools.

“The process of collecting data for the reaccreditation process is something we continuously do year after year, reaching out to all the different graduate, professional schools and Arts, Sciences and Engineering,” Topping said.

Terkla explained that working groups of faculty were formed to look at the standards put forth by NEASC.

“We looked at the standards,” Terkla said. “Then each of the working groups reflected on how Tufts was meeting those standards. They wrote a report describing how we were meeting those standards, what our strengths were and what our challenges were, what we could improve, where we were going and what our projections were, in terms of where we would be going in the next five to 10 years in these particular areas.”

All of the individual reports were then combined into the official self-study, which was edited down to comply with the 100-page limit before being submitted, Terkla explained.

Associate Professor of Biology Harry Bernheim, who served as the Academic Standard’s co-chair, explained that one of his group’s focuses was on the assessment of discipline-specific courses and programs. Bernheim said interacting with the other divisions of the university was a worthwhile experience.

“I learned about the other divisions of the university, which I don’t have a daily interaction with, so I learned a great deal about the operational conditions and machinery of these other schools,” Bernheim said. “Like any enterprise you undertake, the bonus is always [that] it’s a good learning experience ... I’d say it was cross-cultural pollination.”

According to Topping, the de-centralization of the Tufts campuses provided a challenge in creating faculty and staff groups for each of the 11 NEASC standards. She explained that the ultimate accomplishment of reaccreditation came from the staff that found time to meet and prepare.

“Dawn [Terkla] was instrumental in creating those working groups,” Topping said. “The accreditation effort was across the entire university. It was every school ... where staff within each of those schools lent their time and their services ... in preparation for this accreditation visit ... Everyone is incredibly busy as it is, and they had to set aside time for these working groups, which met on a frequent basis.”

The NEASC evaluation team came to Tufts in March 2013 in order to meet with students and faculty, according to Terkla. Office of Institutional Research and Evaluation Associate Director Jessica Sharkness said that the accreditation visit reflected the effort put into incorporating individuals from across the Tufts community into the reaccreditation planning.

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