Eastern re-accreditation update


Every year, the Federal government awards billions of dollars in Financial Aid to colleges and universities across the country. So it is not unreasonable of it to ask the question, “Where is the money going?”


This question is the idea behind Eastern University’s re-accreditation process, which evaluates various aspects of university health, including how well the institution is meeting government standards and fulfilling its mission statement.


This crucial process takes place every 10 years. Now it is again time for the University to undergo observation and review by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education. Eastern’s 2011-2012 review has been underway for over a year and will continue until the Spring of 2012, culminating with a campus visit by a MSCHE review team.


Last Spring, the Waltonian published an article on Eastern’s reaccreditation. Since then, several further steps have been taken towards completion of the process.


First, Eastern’s “self-study” was conducted. The study was finalized by Dr. Kent Sparks, chair of the self-study steering committee, over the summer. The resulting 14-section manual is essentially completed, but still being updated as new information is made available. A hard copy of the full study will be accessible to students by early next year. Two of the most observable results of the study will be the renovations to Eastern’s campus as well as a increase in the amount of student surveys. These surveys assess student learning, one of the major areas examined by the self-study. Sparks encourages students to actively participate in these surveys.


“Instead of viewing a survey as an inconvenience … it is a chance for students to truly influence Eastern for the present and the future,” Sparks said. He pointed out that the value of an Eastern degree is not a fixed value, but will change as the quality and reputation of Eastern changes.


“Making the school better … will affect you for the rest of your life,” Sparks said.


Some changes have been implemented as a result of higher governmental standards but are not directly related to the re-accreditation process.


One example on many students’ minds is the 2011 Fall Free Days break. This year, many students had to participate in online classroom activities during Fall break.


“In recent years, the accountability in higher education has really been ratcheted up,” Provost David King said. “We have to look at other things that are measures of accountability. One of those things is credit hours.”


Because Eastern has to meet certain criteria to determine credit hours, the University has to ensure that students are spending the correct amount of time in class and involved in classroom activities.


When asked if this quota would cause Fall Free Days to be eliminated altogether, Dr. King responded “It’s too early to tell.” One thing he did assure is that the University is working to find a solution that “best serves the students and the faculty.”


This Spring, MSCHE will send a review team to Eastern’s campus to talk with students and observe University events. The team members will most likely wish to talk with Eastern students and get a feel for the campus. Students are encouraged to be aware of this opportunity and participate as much as possible.


“I think Eastern is one of the friendliest places I’ve ever been,” Sparks said. It is his hope that the visiting team members will agree when they visit and observe in the spring.

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