January of this year Carleton will complete the accreditation process it began in the summer of 2006. Accreditation is a nation-wide certification by the North Central Association of College and Schools (NCA). Carleton has been accredited since 1913 and is reaccredited every 10 years.
There are two parts to the accreditation process: the self-evaluation and the on-site review. The self-evaluation cuminates is a comprehensive report that will be available to students, faculty, and staff online and in hard copy in the library. The purpose of the self evaluation is to examine Carleton’s mission and to portray Carleton as it is today.
As Éva Pósfay, chair of the accreditation steering committee, Associate Dean of the College, and Professor of French, said, “It gives an institutional snapshot of how things are…it is a comprehensive evaluation of curricular and co-curricular aspects, financial plans, student view point, etc…”
The self evaluation portion of the accreditation process has been spearheaded by a group of committees composed of faculty, students and staff. These committees include an Accreditation Steering Committee, which “plans, oversees, guides, and coordinates the self-study process.” as well as separate groups that focus on the key points of the accreditation: Mission and Integrity, Preparing for the Future, Student Learning and Effective Teaching, Acquisition, Discovery, Application of Knowledge and Engagement and Service. Pósfay estimates approximately 80 people have been involved in the self- examination process.
Students are reported to have been highly involved in the self-examination process.
President Rob Oden said, “As the Accreditation Steering Committee worked, and they have done superb work, students were involved in several Accreditation Focus Groups as the Committee worked to gather data and opinions and recommendations from all. Then, as the Accreditation Self-Study document went through several drafts, all students were invited to comment on two of these drafts.” They will also be involved in the second part of the process.
The second part of the accreditation process, the on-site evaluation will take place January 12th through the 14th and is conducted by trained NCA members. Pósfay explains the on site review, “what usually happens is that [the NCA officials} will have read the self report and will have access to a large part of our documents through the digit resource room. These are trained evaluators from peer institutions who are asked by the NCA to work for them. They will have open meetings with student, faculty, and staff but also meetings that they will solicit. The point is for them to see to what degree the report reflects student’s experience on this campus.”
The accreditation process is important for several reasons. First, without accreditation Carleton looses credit as an institution and further looses federal grants.
Oden said, “All US colleges and universities must be formally reaccredited by one of the official bodies that work on accreditation in order, well, in order to remain open. Absent accreditation, colleges and universities are ineligible for all kinds of governmental and foundation grants; e.g., our students could not receive loans, our faculty could not apply for grants from the National Science Foundation…”.
Second, It is important for students to be aware of the upcoming completion of the accreditation process and the on site review because “student should be aware of the mission of the college.”
To that purpose, PEPS has produced a new mission video which combines student’s off-hand guess at what the mission statement is and reading from the actual text. Happily, says Pósfay, these are seen to be highly combatable.
Finally, Pósfay says, “yes, we have to go through the accreditation process and satisfy very specific criteria, but this comprehensive self-evaluation has also given us the unique opportunity to learn deeply about ourselves as an institution as we strive for continuing improvement. And that is a real benefit.”
For more information on Carleton’s accreditation visit: https://apps.carleton.edu/accreditation/ or to see the new mission video published this October visit http://apps.carleton.edu/about/mission/?item_id=464836
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