By: Hannah Bonanducci
The Middle States Accreditation visit is probably not one of the many campus events you’re aware of. It seems pretty boring; a bunch of important people talking about how Eastern is doing. However, this visit is a rather important one.
“The visit is headed by the Middle States Commission for Higher Education. It’s part of ensuring integrity in higher education. The short story is that accreditation helps ensure that you are living your mission and evaluates if you do what you say you’re doing. There are a number of accrediting agencies across the United States and they are recognized by the federal government,” Dr. Christine Mahan, Vice President of the Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness, said.
The visit happens every eight years, headed by a board of peers to evaluate the direction the university is headed in. At the end of the visit, they’ll provide a report that will determine whether or not the university receives accreditation for the next eight years.
“The practical part of the accreditation process is access to Title IV funds. Title IV funds are things like federal loans and grants. It is very difficult for an institution to be eligible for those things without accreditation,” Dr. Mahan said.
From the last visit, Eastern has been focused on improving enrollment and furthermore improving the support systems within the university to account for the rise in incoming students. But if that information didn’t grab your attention, perhaps the fact that it’s not just university staff involved in this process will.
“In this visit, the whole community is involved. They meet with students, such as student government. We’ve spent about two years preparing for this visit, covering what has been going on in the last ten years. We’ll share what we think is going well and what we’d like to improve,” Dr. Mahan said.
Representatives from the Student Government Association are mostly involved in the process of this visit, regularly meeting with university members beforehand to discuss student concerns and meeting with the visitors to share what students have presented in meetings like town halls. Other student representatives have also been invited to meet with the visitors and share their own views on the direction Eastern is taking.
While the visit is a larger situation where students get to share their opinions, it also serves as a reminder that students’ voices are heard beyond their student representatives. Dr. Mahan encouraged students to attend town hall meetings or send ideas to email@example.com regularly on what they’d like to see change or be added to the campus.
The visit will take place March 26-29 this year. If you’re interested in learning more about the visit, more information is available on Eastern’s website in the Accreditations & Authorizations tab under the About section.