Reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is necessary for the University to receive federal student aid, said Jonathan Crystal, PhD, associate professor of political science, associate vice president, and associate chief academic officer in the Office of the Provost.
During the team’s four-day visit, the team will meet with faculty, staff, and students to assess the University in 14 areas including administration and integrity, mission and goals, planning and resource allocation, leadership and governance, and assessment of student learning.
These meetings can be used not only to present how well the University is doing, but to determine how it can improve, said Crystal, who, along with Professor Emerita of German Susan Ray, PhD, is co-chair of the Self-Study Steering Committee that prepared for Fordham’s reaccreditation.
“This is an opportunity to present the [University’s] strengths but also the challenges,” he said. “The idea is really not, ‘Are you perfect,’ because no institution is perfect, but, ‘Are you accomplishing your mission,’ and most importantly, ‘Are you engaged in this process of reflection and improvement?’”
He noted that the evaluation team comprises faculty and administrators from other colleges and universities who know about the challenges facing higher education, and who have expertise the University can benefit from.
“The whole process really has two purposes: one is to demonstrate to the accreditors that we’re complying with the standards, and the second is … to reflect on how we’re doing and how we can be more effective,” he said. “That’s always a good thing to do, and this is really an occasion for that.”
The evaluation team—led by William P. Leahy, SJ, president of Boston College—will visit the Rose Hill campus on Monday, April 4, and the Lincoln Center campus the next day. The team will hold open forums for faculty, for administrators and staff, and for students. The visit will end with a preliminary oral report from Father Leahy, followed by the team’s written report, which will make recommendations to the University and to the Middle States commission as to whether and to what extent Fordham complies with the commission’s standards.
The first two open forums will be held back-to-back on Monday, April 4. The forum for faculty will last from 1 to 2:15 p.m. and the second, for administrators and staff, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Both will be held in the O’Hare Special Collections Room in the Walsh Library at the Rose Hill campus and broadcast via videoconference to Room 309 in the Lowenstein Building.
The forum for students, to be held Tuesday, April 5, from 2 to 3 p.m., will take place in the 12th-Floor Lounge of the Lowenstein building. It will be broadcast via videoconference to the Council Room at Cunniffe House on the Rose Hill campus.
Until now, the reaccreditation has taken place every 10 years, with a midterm review at the five year mark, but Middle States is revising the process so that from now on it will happen every eight years with annual updates but no midterm review, Crystal said.
Fordham began preparing for reaccreditation three years ago by doing an institutional self-study report that was given to Father Leahy and members of the visiting team in February.
The reaccreditation process complements Fordham’s Continuous University Strategic Planning initiative, Crystal said.
“Because we’re launching this new phase of our strategic planning, it’s really helpful at this point to examine how we’re doing, how effectively we’re accomplishing the goals that we’ve set for ourselves,” he said.