College deemed ‘institution of remarkable achievement’

After receiving excellent reviews by an evaluation team from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the College seems to be in prime position to be granted re-accreditation in the coming weeks.

The evaluation team, headed by Janet Dudley-Eshbach, president of Salisbury University, recently conducted an on-site peer review of the College as one step in the process toward consideration for re-accreditation.

According to the Middle States Commission Web site, before the peer review evaluation took place, the College conducted a self-study of how well it is meeting its own goals as well as the standards of the Middle States Commission. The College then had to detail this information in a self-study report.

Next, the commission-appointed team of experts from schools similar to the College was able to read its self-study report and visit the campus to gather information for its own report.

The self-study report, the peer-review evaluation and a separate report written by the evaluation team’s chair, Dudley-Eshbach, will all be submitted to a committee of the Middle States Commission for review on Feb. 3. The team will then make a recommendation to the full Commission. “Then the Commission will make its decision about re-accreditation,” Dudley-Eshbach said.

An institution’s respect for the process of accreditation and re-accreditation is seriously considered by the Middle States Commission.

The Middle States Commission states that “the extent to which each educational institution accepts and fulfills the responsibilities inherent in this process is a measure of its concern for freedom and quality in higher education and of its commitment to strive for and achieve excellence in its endeavors.”

In preparation for its peer evaluation, R. Barbara Gitenstein, College president, said that the College focused its self-review on the areas of “planning, assessment, institutional effectiveness and resource allocation.” These preparations seem to have paid off with the peer review report, which called the College “an institution of remarkable achievement.” Among the areas in which the College was commended, the report was especially complimentary of the College’s academic achievements.

“(The College) is committed to offering an undergraduate educational experience that rivals the best of what is offered by private colleges, but at a public school tuition cost and from a public school perspective,” the evaluation team said.

“I am very pleased with the site team’s report of their evaluation of (The College),” Gitenstein said. “I was most proud of the confirmation of our institutional commitment to continuous improvement.”

Many students share Gitenstein’s pride in how well the College is doing.

“I think the school does a good job overall, especially at maintaining a good image, but there are some things they can improve, such as the housing situation. I feel bad for the people who were supposed to live in the apartments that still haven’t been built,” Tara Roche, senior English major, said.

When asked if the report provided any negative feedback, Gitenstein said, “There were no areas of serious concern, rather there were a series of suggestions for improvement. Interestingly enough, the suggestions cited echoed suggestions that our own campus self-study committees had recommended,” she said.

The senior administration has already begun work on all suggestions that were made by our own self-study committees and confirmed by the site review team.”

While Gitenstein did not elaborate on what specific recommendations for improvement were made in the evaluation, she did say that there are nine areas of focus that the College identified at the beginning of the year.

Gitenstein said they include implementation of the new curriculum, faculty/staff development, enhancement of a vital living/learning community, development/fundraising, diversity/inclusion, planning and accountability, public relations, enrollment services and state advocacy.

Gitenstein also said her mid-year report on the progress made in these areas will be distributed at the end of this week.