After a two-year process of self-study and external evaluation, Union received word this summer that its accreditation status has been reaffirmed by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which also commended the College for its accomplishments in a number of areas.
At its session in late June, the Commission issued a new Statement of Accreditation Status for Union. In doing so, it asked that the College provide a Periodic Review Report in five years’ time to document its ongoing assessment efforts. The Commission’s determination was based on the report of the external review team, headed by Daniel Weiss, President of Lafayette College.
“It was the best outcome we could have received,” said Therese McCarty, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty. “Many colleges have to report back to the Commission within two years, or even one year, to show evidence of further progress. But Union does not need to submit anything until the five-year update report that is always required. I am also very pleased that the College was formally commended by the committee on a number of standards.”
The Commission evaluates 14 accreditation standards as part of its process, covering topics such as the institution’s mission and goals, its planning process, its leadership, its integrity, and its institutional resources. Union was found to have met all 14 standards, and was specifically recognized for the degree to which its Strategic Plan has been embraced and implemented by the campus community.
“We commend the College and President Ainlay for developing a Strategic Plan that resonates with the mission of the institution and that is widely endorsed by the college community,” the report states. “Indeed, the team was especially impressed by the extent to which the Plan serves as the touchstone for near and long-term decision-making and resource allocation across the College.”
Union was also commended for its financial discipline, its budget planning process, its efforts in recent years to enhance diversity on campus, and the collegial nature of its governance structure. The external review team and the Middle States Commission made several recommendations to the College regarding next steps for assessment of student learning, particularly in the areas of general education and institutional student learning outcomes.
“The self-study process gave us an opportunity to mine our data and focus our assessment efforts on priorities that matter to us the most,” said David Cotter, professor of sociology and co-chair of the reaccreditation process with McCarty. “Feedback from the external review team will assist the college in further refining and focusing our assessment efforts so that we can use them effectively in achieving our educational mission.”
Both McCarty and Cotter expressed their gratitude to the entire campus community for its involvement in the reaccreditation process and key role in Union’s successful outcome.