Preparing for our accreditation review

10-20-2014

During the 2015-16 academic year, MSU will undergo an institution-wide accreditation review.

Accreditation is an activity of great importance for the University. Being accredited is the gateway to participating in federal and state programs of benefit to higher education, including financial aid programs. Evaluating the past and present and planning for our future ensures currency, quality, and viability. The national conversation on accountability is ongoing at the state and federal levels of our government. Legislators and families want assurance that our educational programs are of high value and providing students what we say they do. Undergoing voluntary accreditation is a significant way for us to answer those calls for accountability.

The accreditation process has changed dramatically in the last ten years. While some parts of the process remain the same, changes made since our last review in 2006 are altering the way we prepare for and engage with the current process. Ours has two review components:  Quality Initiative and Quality Assurance.

Quality Initiative

We are required to develop and implement a Quality Initiative project as part of the reaffirmation of accreditation process.  This component of the review provides each institution with an opportunity to feature current achievements, aspirations, and concerns. The project must be significant in scope and have the potential to impact the institution in positive ways. MSU has chosen our Neighborhoods initiative and their impact on student academic success as the focus of our Quality Initiative project, with Sue Blanshan, Senior Advisor to the Provost, as lead on this portion of the review.

 MSU’s Quality Initiative proposal was due in May of 2013 and reviewed by HLC staff and peers in fall of 2013. Our Quality Initiative report is due no later than August 31, 2015.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance has always been the purpose of institutional accreditation, so the expectations of this component of the review are not new. The evidence we collect, how we collect it, and the document we have been asked to produce, however, have all changed significantly. The five criteria our accreditation will focus on are Mission; Integrity:  Ethical and Responsible Conduct; Teaching and Learning:  Quality, Resources, and Support; Teaching and Learning:  Evaluation and Improvement; and Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness.

In the past, institutions demonstrated their compliance with Quality Assurance criteria by producing a lengthy self-study document, but because the five criteria are now much more focused, the document we produce will also be more streamlined and focused. One of the most significant outcomes associated with this change is that we will no longer write a self-study document. Instead, we will write a narrative of no more than 35,000 words to directly address the five criteria. Evidence for our narrative will be provided by including electronic access to appropriate documentation, such as policies, procedure manuals, board meeting minutes, faculty and staff handbooks, and examples from curricular and co-curricular experiences and practices.

A Steering Committee for the Quality Assurance component of our review was formed in summer of 2013, followed by the formation of Work Groups in fall of 2013. Kelly Funk, Karen Klomparens, Doug Estry, Sue Blanshan, John Gaboury, Marti Hesse, and Michael Zeig are serving as the Steering Committee. Work Groups will continue to provide input to the Quality Assurance narrative throughout 2014-15. Each college has appointed someone to act as Accreditation Liaison, to assist with the flow of information.

Because the Quality Assurance process is completely electronic, the review team coming to campus will have access to our materials approximately two months prior to their April 4-5, 2016 visit. It is expected they will do the majority of their work before they arrive in East Lansing. This means the team’s site visit will be shorter and the team itself will be smaller. They will still want to meet with individual members of the campus community, but meetings will only be arranged around topics the review team has remaining questions about or needs further clarification on after having read our Quality Assurance narrative.

 LEAD Seminar:   “Institutional Accreditation:  2016 Is Right Around the Corner”

Those interested in learning more about our accreditation review should consider attending a LEadership and ADministrator (LEAD) seminar coming up in early November. “Institutional Accreditation:  2016 Is Right Around the Corner” will take place on Tuesday, November 4 in Red Cedar A&B of the Kellogg Center. Registration will begin at 8:00am and the program will begin at 8:30am. Kelly Funk, Director of Academic Assessment, Program Review, and Accreditation and Sue Blanshan, Senior Advisor to the Provost will lead the session.