Johns Hopkins has entered a critical phase of preparation for its upcoming reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The formal evaluation, which occurs every 10 years, requires the university to submit a detailed self-study report in preparation for a site visit by the Middle States' evaluation team in spring 2014.
The reaccreditation process officially began last fall, when President Ronald J. Daniels appointed Vice Provost Jonathan Bagger and Assistant Vice Provost Philip Tang to serve as Reaccreditation Steering Committee chair and vice chair.
Earlier this year, the committee was formed, and a draft self-study design was selected and presented to Middle States. The 21-member committee includes senior administrators, faculty, and students who represent all academic divisions.
In charging the committee, Daniels emphasized that the process and report should seek to strengthen Johns Hopkins as a leading institution of higher education, and asked the steering committee to consider what might be reasonable goals for the university to commit to as part of the self-study.
"The president asked us not to simply 'check the boxes' or tweak programs but to conduct a thoughtful and detailed examination of the university," Bagger says. "He also charged us to make the process fun."
In order to be eligible for federal funding, colleges and universities nationwide need to be reaccredited by their regional accrediting body. The planning typically takes two and a half years, during which time the university focuses on an institutional self-study. At its core, the self-study is a universitywide process of self-evaluation with the goal of self-improvement.
The self-study involves a comprehensive review of the university and its effectiveness, focusing on issues that include leadership and governance, administrative processes, planning and resource allocation, faculty, educational programs, student services, and student learning. The self-study also emphasizes two key issues around which strategic initiatives are already under way: PhD education, and the teaching and learning of gateway sciences. Daniels had asked the steering committee to consider how JHU could capitalize on these ongoing activities to develop big, visionary ideas.
As part of Johns Hopkins' self-study process, each school has launched its own self-study, which ultimately will inform an integrated universitywide report. The final report will include recommendations for improving the university while demonstrating compliance with Middle States' 14 accreditation standards.
Tang says that the steering committee is thinking strategically and using the self-study as more than an exercise in compliance.
"The process affords us an important opportunity to assess how we are doing and to identify areas in which we could do better," Tang says. "By building on the self-studies under way in each of our nine schools, the final report will reflect how the whole of Johns Hopkins truly is greater than the sum of its parts. Moreover, it will include recommendations for how, collectively, we can make our remarkable university even stronger."
In fall 2013, the steering committee will present a draft self-study report to university leadership. Subsequently, there will be forums for the university community to discuss the contents of the report and provide feedback. A final report will be submitted to Middle States in early 2014.
The Middle States evaluation team, comprising senior officials from peer institutions, will visit Johns Hopkins campuses in spring 2014 and subsequently issue its own report. The university will be notified of its reaccreditation status that summer. To read more about the reaccreditation process and university study, go to jhu.edu/provost.
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