Univ. launches reaccreditation

Faculty and administrators on the University’s reaccreditation team — responsible for ensuring that Yale meets standards to maintain its status as an accredited university — met with the president of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges on Thursday to gather more information about the reaccreditation process.

By the end of the year-long process, which officially began on Sept. 23, the University will all but surely win reaccreditation, which serves as a public assurance of the quality of a Yale education. But just as importantly, administrators said they will use reaccreditation to evaluate Yale’s strengths and consider new initiatives to improve its weaker areas.

“This gives an excuse to stop, reflect, study and analyze ourselves,” said Acting Dean of Yale College Joseph Gordon. “We can measure ourselves against our own goals and missions.”

Reaccreditation, a process that takes place every 10 years, is administered by the NEASC Commission on Institutes of Higher Education. The organization will use officials from other institutions to evaluate the University in a variety of areas, including academics and physical resources.

Judith Hackman, the associate dean of Yale College for assessment, said NEASC president Barbara Brittingham told those present Thursday it would be important to take the process seriously. The commission requires that universities seeking reaccreditation evaluate themselves on the basis of 11 standards: mission and purposes, planning and evaluation, organization and governance, academic program, faculty, students, library and other information resources, physical and technological resources, financial resources, public disclosure and integrity.

Administrators have convened one committee per standard to evaluate each criterion, and University President Richard Levin will chair a steering committee responsible for reviewing the reports produced by each standards committee.

“We’re using this as an opportunity to step back to look at the many facets of Yale,” said Hackman, who will coordinate the work of the 11 committees. “We can see what’s doing well and what’s not, and maybe make some improvements.”

Hackman said the University’s goals for the process include presenting Yale in a favorable and accurate light, prioritizing self-assessment and engaging a wide range of individuals into the review process. In particular, the committees will examine the University’s advising system, its level of public disclosure and the efficacy of its academic program, Hackman said.

Such a comprehensive analysis may be difficult because of the volume of materials committee members must review, said astronomy professor Charles Bailyn, who will chair the academic program committee.

The standards committees will submit their first progress reports to Levin and the steering committee in January, followed by full drafts in March. A NEASC team will visit campus in early November 2009 and then send Yale a detailed evaluation letter.

The University’s last round of accreditation was completed in 1999.

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