The entire Rensselaer community is, or soon will be, engaged in a comprehensive self-study undertaken as part of the process to secure reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This self-assessment, involving process documentation, surveys, data collection, and interviews by and of faculty and staff on both the Troy and Hartford campuses, will culminate in April 2016 with a visit by a team of peer evaluators, assigned by the Commission, from other member universities.
“Our self-study will examine virtually every process and activity of the Institute and assess the effectiveness of each,” said Professor Wolf von Maltzahn, associate vice president for research, who is leading the Rensselaer steering committee. “This examination and assessment of how we meet the Commission’s standards for accreditation includes the vision of The New Polytechnic as embodied in The Rensselaer Plan 2024.”
In its publication, Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education, the Commission introduces the institutional review process with the following statement, “An institution of higher education is a community dedicated to the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge, to the study and clarification of values, and to the advancement of the society it serves.” Accreditation is a voluntary method of self-regulation adopted by the higher education community to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education in the United States. According to the Commission on Higher Education, “Middle States’ accreditation is an expression of confidence in an institution’s mission and goals, its performance, and its resources.”
In order to maintain its accreditation by the Commission, Rensselaer is required to participate in a comprehensive assessment every 10 years. This evaluation is based on a major Self-Study Report and supporting documentation, and a visit by a team of external peer evaluators, collectively providing evidence that the Institute.”
The Rensselaer Plan 2024 is the Institute’s road map to remaining a world-class technological research university with global reach and global impact. As Rensselaer proceeds on its bridge to the bicentennial of its founding it embodies The New Polytechnic—a university that applies advanced technologies and knowledge and unites a multiplicity of disciplines and perspectives, in order to take on large, societal challenges. A university that understands and impacts the world by having its students and faculty engage in a transformative learning environment—with intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication, and a global perspective.
In order to maintain its accreditation by the Commission, Rensselaer is required to participate in a comprehensive assessment every 10 years. This evaluation is based on a major Self-Study Report and supporting documentation, and a visit by a team of external peer evaluators, collectively providing evidence that the Institute:
· Has a mission appropriate to higher education;
· Is guided by well-defined and appropriate goals, including goals for student learning;
· Has established conditions and procedures under which its mission and goals can be realized;
· Assesses both institutional effectiveness and student learning outcomes, and uses the results for improvement;
· Is accomplishing its mission and goals substantially;
· Is organized, staffed, and supported so that it can be expected to continue to accomplish its mission and goals; and
· Meets the Requirements of Affiliation and accreditation standards of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Standards and requirements for accreditation by the Commission emphasize institutional assessment and assessment of student learning. The standards also acknowledge the diversity of educational delivery systems that enable institutions to meet accreditation standards. “The Rensselaer Self-Study Report will focus on evaluating how we go about doing what we do and how we assess our effectiveness, including examples of evidence that substantiate the Institute’s achievement of the standards,” said von Maltzahn.
Starting in September 2014 and throughout the fall semester, the subcommittees assigned to each of the 14 “standards of excellence” gathered new and existing data; conducted surveys, focus groups, and interviews; and evaluated the results. Preliminary findings were collected and first draft reports were written in January 2015. Currently, the draft reports for each standard are being finalized. Feedback and comments from campus stakeholders and constituencies will be incorporated into the final draft self-study report during the summer and early fall of 2015. The report will be professionally edited and prepared for submission to the Commission. The final self-study report will be submitted to the Commission on Higher Education Middle States by December 2015.