Reaccreditation team concludes visit

Yale played host to a group of 11 administrators from various universities this week in a visit both University administrators and the team said they found educational.

The visit was part of the University’s New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education reaccreditation process, which began last November. In preparation for the visit, Yale put together a self-study report evaluating the University in 11 different areas. While the visiting NEASC team members used the self-study as a reference, they spent the bulk of their time on campus meeting with members of the Yale community and touring facilities. On Wednesday morning, the team provided administrators with a preliminary set of findings, but Yale College Dean Mary Miller declined in a phone interview Wednesday to provide the details of the recommendations.

The team, headed by Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro, arrived on campus late Sunday afternoon and was shuttled through a schedule packed with meetings and tours, up until the team departed late Wednesday morning. Other team members included administrators from institutions including Harvard University, Smith College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

On Monday, team members attended 15 different meetings with Yale faculty, students and staff, including an open forum on student life. The forum was heavily attended by graduate students from the Graduate Employees and Students Organization who called for the NEASC team to discuss teaching responsibilities and recognize their union. GESO representatives said they want more and better opportunities to teach in order to help them be more competitive in the job market.

Schapiro tried to steer the students into a discussion about graduate teaching and said he understood their concerns.

“When I was a graduate student, my friends never taught, but I did,” Schapiro said. “I was helped a bit by it, and they weren’t hurt. How is it that now, not teaching is a liability?”

Despite their packed schedules, the team members set up independent meetings to explore areas of Yale’s campus relevant to the reaccreditation process. For example, several NEASC visitors expressed interest in West Campus and later took a tour of the area led by Michael Donoghue and Deputy Provost for Biomedical and Health Affairs Stephanie Spangler, who are the vice president and associate vice president of West Campus development, respectively.

On Tuesday morning, the NEASC team attended a meeting about Yale’s six largest undergraduate majors and the engineering major, which brought more than 15 directors of undergraduate studies and department chairs to discuss how Yale measures and collects data on student success and uses the data to make improvements.

This kind of information helps the NEASC team to evaluate Yale in areas ranging from academics to student life, said Associate Dean for Assessment Judith Hackman.

“In a way, our self-study report understated how much information we really have and use,” Hackman said. “Often in accreditation, people try to make more of what they have and overstate their data.”

On Wednesday morning, the visiting team provided Miller, Hackman and other high-ranking administrators with a preliminary set of findings before leaving campus. Miller said she was pleased with the group members’ suggestions and with their willingness to learn from Yale’s example.

“I felt very positive about the fact that the kinds of questions that they had asked throughout their visit suggested that this could be a two-way street,” Miller said. “We could learn from their critique, and they could learn from our practice.”

Yale will receive a preliminary summary of the visiting team’s findings in the next month, and administrators are expecting the final set of recommendations late this coming spring.

Yale’s last reaccreditation took place in 1999.

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