As members of the SUNY New Paltz community prepare for reaccreditation peer review in 2021, the College welcomed Sean McKitrick, vice president at the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, on April 11 for conversations with students, faculty, staff and administrators about the Commission’s expectations for reaccreditation.
Accreditation is a vital process for institutions of higher education that provides public assurance that colleges and universities adhere to standards of excellence and provide students with a quality educational experience. Accreditation also affects whether a college can obtain federal (Title IV) and state financial aid.
Middle States is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a higher education accreditor for Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They currently accredit more than 500 institutions.
Their accreditation process takes place every 10 years, with a review for to affirm accreditation at the mid-point of each decade. SUNY New Paltz has long held Middle States accreditation, last earned reaccreditation in 2011, and earned high commendations at the 2016 periodic review.
The reaccreditation process, as McKitrick outlined in his April 11 presentation, begins with a comprehensive self-evaluation on seven standards outlined by the Middle States Commission:
- Mission and Goals: The institution’s mission defines its purpose within the context of higher education, the students it serves, and what it intends to accomplish.
- Ethics and Integrity: In all activities, whether internal or external, an institution must be faithful to its mission, honor its contracts and commitments, adhere to its policies, and represent itself truthfully.
- Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience: An institution provides students with learning experiences that are characterized by rigor and coherence at all program, certificate, and degree levels, regardless of instructional modality.
- Support of the Student Experience: The institution commits to student retention, persistence, completion, and success through a coherent and effective support system sustained by qualified professionals, which enhances the quality of the learning environment, contributes to the educational experience, and fosters student success.
- Educational Effectiveness Assessment: Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the institution’s students have accomplished educational goals consistent with their program of study, degree level, the institution’s mission, and appropriate expectations for institutions of higher education.
- Planning, Resources and Institutional Improvement: The institution’s planning processes, resources, and structures are aligned with each other and are sufficient to fulfill its mission and goals, to continuously assess and improve its programs and services, and to respond effectively to opportunities and challenges.
- Governance, Leadership and Administration: The institution is governed and administered in a manner that allows it to realize its stated mission and goals in a way that effectively benefits the institution, its students, and the other constituencies it serves.
At SUNY New Paltz, the process of self-study on these standards is already underway. Working teams will produce reports on the College’s performance in each area, which will be shared with the Middle States Commission prior to their peer review site visits begin.
Stay up-to-date with SUNY New Paltz’s ongoing review and reaccreditation process with the Strategic Planning & Assessment Newsletter.