By Katie Ward
Catholic University is preparing for the Middle States Commission for Higher Education (MSCHE) accreditation process, a process which certifies an institution’s educational quality every ten years.
Founded in 1887, the MSCHE is a non profit non governmental organization that evaluates higher education in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The association will work with the university to ensure compliance with educational standards and identify areas for improvement.
The university was last accredited in 2010, and has begun the appeal to be accredited for another ten years, with the self-study evaluation being finalized during the 2019-2020 school year. The two-year process for re-accreditation began in December 2017, and includes years of focus groups, peer review, and a final self-study document that encompasses the last ten years at the university.
The MSCHE has created seven “standards for accreditation and requirements for affiliation”: mission and goals; ethics and integrity; design and delivery of the student learning experience; support of the student experience; educational effectiveness assessment; planning, resources, and institutional improvement; and governance, leadership, and administration.
Using these seven standards as a guideline, the university will create and submit the self-study, which will “highlight the university’s distinctive mission, the student learning experience, noteworthy accomplishments over the last ten years, and areas for improvement,” according to the school’s accreditation website.
To oversee the two-year accreditation process, the university created a Steering Committee, consisting of sixteen professors, administrators, and student representatives. The Steering Committee hosts the MSCHE evaluation team on its visits, conducts professor and student focus groups, and composes the self-study documents to send to the MSCHE.
The committee assigned each of the seven standards to a working group composed of faculty, staff, and student representatives across the university. These working groups meet at least once a month to ascertain that the standard is being carried out by the Steering Committee by creating reports based on gathered data and input from the campus community.
The working groups and Steering Committee will complete several drafts of the standards reports and self-study document, before finalizing the document to share with the campus community in January of 2020 and submitting it to MSCHE a month later. The committees are currently conducting focus groups and looking for student input to create a report as all-encompassing as possible.
“They ask us to tell a story to them, they evaluate, then they tell us what’s good and what’s not,” said Mike Allen, Vice President of Student Affairs and the co-chair of the Steering Committee.
Senior Clare Whitton is the graduate student representative on the Steering Committee, which is currently reviewing the first drafts of the working groups’ reports.
“It’s a meticulous undertaking,” she said. “It’s difficult fitting ten years into one document, but everyone’s diverse areas are being considered.”