Image courtesy of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
By Jessica Fetrow
The Catholic University of America has been reaccredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) until 2028. The reaccreditation comes after the completion of an on-campus evaluation conducted by the committee from March 1 to 4.
The preparation for the reaccreditation process was initiated by the university in February 2018, according to a statement released by the university. Representatives from the university included university President John Garvey, Provost Dr. Aaron Dominguez, Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Robert Specter, and Board of Trustees Chairman Joseph L. Carlini.
According to the MSCHE website, “The Commission is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations, and resources.”
The university was evaluated on seven standards for reaccreditation, including the university’s mission and goals, ethics and integrity, design and delivery of the student learning experience, support of the student experience, and educational effectiveness. Additional standards included planning, resources, and institutional improvement, as well as governance, leadership, and administration. The university met all necessary requirements for reaccreditation, and was commended by the commission for several aspects of the university’s structure, including the improved efforts towards student support and well-being. The commission also recognized the “transparency, accountability, and healing” efforts made by the University in light of the clergy sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Chuch.
“This important — indeed, existential — accomplishment is the result of countless hours of work by so many members of the University community,” said Garvey in the university’s statement announcing the reaccreditation. “That the visiting evaluation team’s report is so overwhelmingly positive speaks not only to the comprehensive and thoughtful way we prepared for the reaccreditation process during the past two years, but also to how the University strives to improve in delivering a high-quality educational experience for our students every day. This is a moment for everyone involved with Catholic University to celebrate.”
While the report generally commended the university, the commission did provide some advice and recommendations in preparation for its next review in 2028. Several of these concerns stemmed from internal communication with faculty and staff, which caused “great concern” to the commission’s visiting team, and were not reflected in the university’s statement.
“In meetings with faculty and staff, it was evident that there were systematic concerns about internal communications,” said the report. “Comments centered on a lack of communication about how decisions are made and especially decisions related to the allocation of resources.”
The team advised the university to “address the recommendations in the self-study regarding grievances, employment practices, communications, and compliance and assessment,” as well as “attend to the urgent need to enhance internal and external communication in all formats and modalities.”
“The institution’s success and continued improvement will depend upon the restoration of open and honest communication,” said the report.
The team also recommended that the university prioritize the “development and implementation of organized and systematic assessments that evaluate all relevant processes contributing to the academic mission.”
The report gave specific recognition to Garvey for his leadership during the “creation of a board structure that protects the authority of members of the Catholic hierarchy for the continuation of the University with the need for lay expertise and philanthropic support.” The university was commended for the “thorough and thoughtful” preparations for the evaluation and detailed self-study report.
The full report is available for viewing here.