Yale releases reaccreditation self-study

After a year spent examining the policies and practices of the University as part of the reaccreditation process, administrators have posted an extensive self-study report online, offering an appraisal of Yale on the basis of 11 different standards.

The self-study calls for, among other things, more public disclosure, increased scrutiny of the Yale College curriculum and better student facilities. The report is in essence a status update, offering a snapshot of the University in 11 different areas, from academics to public disclosure, with tentative future agendas but few concrete recommendations.

Now, a team of peer administrators from other institutions, put together by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutes of Higher Education — which oversees university reaccreditation — will visit Yale for three days on Nov. 1 to evaluate the University, using the self-study as a guide. Associate Dean for Assessment Judith Hackman said she expects more specific recommendations and resulting changes to come from the Commission’s evaluation letter.

“It’s a way for us to sit back and see where we are in various areas,” Hackman said, adding the Commission’s review will benefit the University. “Every school is unique, and these are people who understand higher education.”

The reaccreditation process, which officially began on Sept. 23, 2008, serves as a public assurance of the quality of a Yale education and allows Yale students to receive federal funding. The commission requires that the University evaluate itself 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. A committee was formed to examine each standard, along with a steering committee to coordinate and oversee their work.

As part of the 11 standards, the University team agreed to look into some issues presented during the previous reaccreditation study in 1999, including the increase in the number of academic programs, faculty diversity, the system of teaching evaluations and faculty promotion.

The last two recommendations did result in significant changes at the University, Hackman said, including the revision of the tenure and promotion system and the introduction of Web-based teaching evaluations.

“The self-study allows us to put in writing and in one place some of the ideas that have been floating around in various committees around campus,” Associate Dean of Academic Affairs George Levesque said in an e-mail. “[The members of the team] might see things we have overlooked, or they might offer alternative models that have been successful elsewhere.”

In November, Hackman said this year’s self-study would prioritize an examination of the University’s advising system, its level of public disclosure and the efficacy of its academic program. After looking into these areas, the committees recommend in the self-study that Yale bolster the advising system and continue to create a more information-rich Web site for current and prospective members of the University community, making statistical and descriptive information readily available.

In addition, the committee looking into academics conducted a review of the six largest majors and the engineering program to work toward better assessment of student learning. Hackman said she is unsure whether the commission’s team will request a similar review of Yale’s other academic programs. The report also recommends adding more science and quantitative reasoning courses for non-majors.

The report is posted on the University’s reaccreditation Web site, at www.yale.edu/accred. The University will undergo an interim review in five years, Hackman said.

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