It affects the entire student body. It influences curriculum and university policy. It gives students access to federal grants and loans. It is Eastern’s Re-accreditation Review.
In partnership with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Eastern undergoes a re-accreditation process every decade to assess student learning and university health.
Dr. Christine Mahan, Associate Provost of Institutional Effectiveness, describes the process as staying accountable through “checks and balances.”
In addition to evaluating and improving Eastern’s atmosphere and academics, the evaluation ensures the continued availability of federal financial aid.
The re-accreditation process consists of a two year long “self-study” of the university, an extensive analytical report and a campus visit by MSCHE responders. Eastern will be evaluated according to MSCHE’s “Standards of Excellence,” which include things like Mission and Goals, Student Support Services and Educational Offerings.
The past few years have seen a shift towards increased accountability and tightened standards in University Evaluations. Since 2007, the number of universities who have received warnings or probations has more than tripled.
“The question is no longer ‘are students learning?'” Dr. Kent Sparks, Special Assistant to the Provost, said, “but ‘can you prove they are learning?'”
Despite this recent trend, neither Dr. Sparks nor Provost David King are worried about Eastern’s performance under this increased scrutiny, although some changes and improvements will most likely be made.
Student participation is an integral part of the re-accreditation process. During the next few weeks, student surveys will be released to evaluate individual student experience, complete with incentives for participating. In addition, a review team from the MSCHE will visit Eastern next spring, largely to interview and question students.
Dr. King encourages students to take these opportunities very seriously. “We really value the variety of ways students give us feedback,” he said. “Your input is really, really important.”
Sources: usgovernmentspending.com/numbers, www.msche.org/