Feedback sought on draft reaccreditation self-study report

For two years now, faculty, administrators, students, and staff across Johns Hopkins have been engaged in a self-study that is the centerpiece of the university's upcoming reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a process that occurs every 10 years. A reaccreditation steering committee has released a draft self-study report, available at http://web.jhu.edu/administration/provost/reaccreditation, and the committee is asking for your feedback.

In addition, a series of town hall meetings will be held during the first week of December on various campuses (see below). Hosted by members of the Reaccreditation Self-Study Steering Committee, the meetings will allow members of the university community to discuss the draft. A final version of the report will be delivered to Middle States and an evaluation team in March.

"Reaccreditation and our self-study provide an opportunity for strategic thinking about ways to improve and strengthen the university," said President Ronald J. Daniels and Provost Robert Lieberman in an email sent to the university community last month. "The fundamental questions are, How are we doing, how effective are we as a university, and how could we do better?" they said.

The draft self-study report, they said, serves to answer these questions while demonstrating the university's compliance with 14 accreditation standards in areas related to governance, faculty, educational offerings, student services, and administration, among others.

One of the most important issues addressed in the self-study concerns the effectiveness of student learning. For that reason, the steering committee has chosen to highlight in the report two strategic initiatives.

"We are committed to exploring how we could better teach, and how students could more effectively learn, in our large introductory science courses, which is why we launched the Gateway Sciences Initiative in 2010," says Jonathan Bagger, vice provost and chair of the Reaccreditation Self-Study Steering Committee. "We are also looking carefully at the future of PhD education at Johns Hopkins, so that is another area of emphasis in our self-study."

The university's self-study report builds on individual self-studies that were conducted by each school. The committee then worked to knit together the lessons learned, says Phil Tang, assistant vice provost and vice chair of the steering committee.

"Throughout this process, our committee has sought to identify opportunities for and barriers to collaboration across our nine schools," Tang says. "While the instinct is to see reaccreditation as a bureaucratic exercise, in truth this has been an important opportunity to survey our progress toward many of the university's goals," he says.

The university's accreditation site visit will take place in May 2014. The evaluation team, composed of faculty and administrators from other colleges and universities, will be chaired by Thomas Rosenbaum, who currently is provost of the University of Chicago and was recently appointed the next president of the California Institute of Technology.

Middle States will issue its report on Johns Hopkins' reaccreditation bid next fall.

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