Why are we undergoing an Accreditation Site Visit?
Accreditation is a voluntary action by an institution. According to the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), “Accreditation is a status that provides assurance to prospective students, their families and the general public that an institution meets clearly stated Standards for Accreditation and that there are reasonable grounds to believe the institution will continue to meet those standards in the future.”
When is the Site Visit?
The site visitors will be on campus on October 21-24, 2018.
What happens at the Site Visit?
The site visit team will be ascertaining that the campus meets each of the standards outlined by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE; formerly the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, NEASC), based on the information provided in the self-study, information available on the campus website along with other documents provided, and through discussions with relevant constituents during the site visit. A team of nine administrators and faculty from public institutions in the US will be visiting the campus. Each will have responsibility for at least one of the nine standards.The evaluators will break out into different meetings to explore the various areas of interest, meeting with faculty, students, administrators, trustees, and other relevant groups. Those in attendance should be prepared to answer questions from the evaluation team so that they can verify what is described in the self-study and explore issues related to the standard. Each meeting will last approximately 30 min to 1 hour, and there will be multiple simultaneous meetings so that the reviewers can learn about the myriad aspects of a complex campus in a short period of time.
Who should attend with the Site Visit team meetings and when are they scheduled?
There will be over 40 meetings on campus during the site visit, with participants who can address different aspects of the topic to be discussed. The meeting schedule will be posted at www.umass.edu/planning/review-team-agenda, but is subject to change based on visitors’ interests. Open meetings for faculty, staff and students are scheduled for Monday 10/22 @ 4:15 PM.
How can I prepare for the Site Visit?
Attendees should be prepared to discuss their aspect of the meeting and how they apply the standards in their setting. While one should be familiar with the entire self-study document, it would be particularly useful to read thoroughly the chapter for the standard that the meeting represents. Standards can be found at the umass.edu/planning/neasc website. Attendees do not need to bring data with them. Reviewers are there to learn more about the campus, and not to find “gotcha” moments. They will want to verify that what we say in the self-study is the case.They may also have questions such as how we use the evaluation data or other evidence in making decisions; how we involve students or other communities of interest in our programs; how do special programs, such as online programs, off-site programs, relate to the standards; more information on budget and finance, etc.
Do we need to provide any further documentation required for the self-study?
The self-study team has been gathering documentation for over six months. The evaluators may find a need for more data or artifacts (syllabi, handbooks, etc) that emerge from the discussion; if so, we should provide it as soon as possible before their visit concludes.
When and where can I see the self-study?
The self-study is posted at www.umass.edu/planning/neasc. There are two volumes – one with the data and description, appraisal, and projection of future plans organized by standard, and one with appendices.
I am part of a specialized study (Shorelight, Springfield, Mt Ida): What do I need to do?
Evaluation team members will be visiting the Springfield campus, Mt Ida campus, and Shorelight courses during the self-study. They will wish to speak with faculty and students, and understand further how the program operates with respect to each standard.
Who are the site visitors?
The New England Commission of Higher Education looks for reviewers in a similar institutional environment with expertise related to each of the nine standards. The following team members comprise the evaluation team:
Dr. Susan J. Hunter
University of Maine
Mr. Bruce A. Bollinger
Vice President for Finance and Administration
North Dakota State University
Dr. Susan Fritz
Executive Vice President and Provost
University of Nebraska
Dr. Gene E. Harkless
Associate Professor, Nursing
University of New Hampshire
Dr. Kent E. Holsinger
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
University of Connecticut
Dr. Felicia McGinty
Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration and Planning
Dr. Beth Mintz
University of Vermont
Dr. Judy Ouimet
Senior Assistant Vice Provost
Indiana University Bloomington
Dr. Raymond M. Wright
Dean, College of Engineering
University of Rhode Island
Did I hear that NEASC has a new name? What is it and why the change?
The university is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE), a unit of NEASC. There is a federal requirement that accrediting bodies are separate and independent from other organizations, so CIHE separated from NEASC, and recently became a 501(c)(3) with the new name, New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). NECHE will share space and some functions with NEASC; the standards for accreditation and commission policies will remain