Fordham’s commitment to high standards of academic excellence received a resounding thumbs up from Middle States, the accrediting body for universities and colleges in the mid-Atlantic region.
Following an intensive, three-day visit in April to Fordham’s main campuses, Middle States voted to grant the University a full and unconditional reaccreditation. The review, which takes place every ten years, was conducted by a visiting team lead by William Leahy, SJ, president of Boston College. In their formal report, which was delivered on June 24—the same day the University celebrated the 175th anniversary of its founding—the authors took the unusual step of offering no formal recommendations to which the University would have had to respond.
This, said Joseph M. McShane, SJ, president of Fordham, was notable.
“We are very happy with this assessment,” of course, Father McShane said, “largely due to the hard work of the many staff and faculty who contributed to the self study, and to Fordham’s strategic planning process—CUSP. That said, we clearly have more work to do in the years ahead if Fordham is to continue to live up to its mission.”
The report noted the complex structure of Fordham, partially a legacy of the its growth from one campus to several, but said that it seems to serve the University’s needs. The Middle States team found “optimism everywhere,” with the Continuous University Strategic Planning (CUSP) process cited as the most visible symbol of that spirit. The report said that development of CUSP and the energies from the University’s self study give Fordham a special opportunity to plan and act well.
The report said that while Fordham has been managed with fiscal responsibility, its ambitions will be constrained by limited resources in the medium term, and that hard decisions on which priorities to pursue lie ahead. Additionally, Fordham needs a long range budgeting model though which to assess future needs and set academic priorities. Diversity is another issue that requires attention, especially regarding faculty and upper level administrators.
The Middle states team also found that Fordham has made great progress in assessing learning outcomes, and that a culture of assessment is beginning to emerge University wide. The team also reported that a sense of mission is pervasive at Fordham, and is one of its greatest strengths. Writing, “Fordham is a vibrant, mission-driven institution and more than ready to meet the needs of the 21st century. The University is a good example of a Jesuit university living out its mission.”