For the next two years one of our top-of-mind priorities is the process of renewing our institutional accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This decennial renewal requires College-wide participation in an institutional self-study, capped by an evaluation site visit undertaken by a Middle States-selected team of peer educators.
The self-study process represents a moment of institutional self-reflection that embodies our ongoing commitment to self-improvement. Our reaccreditation is also the most visible way in which we assure the public of the quality of our educational programs and services. The imprimatur of Middle States, one of six regional accreditors across the United States, is also a necessity: without it, neither the College nor our students can receive any federal funds.
In short, the reaccreditation process is valuable, necessary and, indeed, mandatory for the future of Community College of Philadelphia.
The organization of our self-study process has already begun. I announced at the onset of our fall semester that our Middle States efforts will be co-chaired by Pete Watkins, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, Education and Human Services, and currently serving as Coordinator of Curriculum Development; and Susan Tobia, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs. Pete and Susan have recently completed Middle States’ two-day training session for colleges embarking on their self-study process.
While there are three self-study formats from which a college can choose, we are selecting the traditional comprehensive self-study. That means we will report to Middle States on each of the 14 standards by which accreditation compliance is measured. The focus of those standards represents the heart of what we do as an institution of higher learning: mission, planning, institutional resources, governance and leadership, faculty, student learning outcomes, etc.
To undertake the actual self-study, a Steering Committee will be identified by the end of this semester. In January, up to seven subcommittees will be established to examine in more detail how we fare when measured against the individual standards and their core elements. As the committees progress through their work, all Middle States documents and materials will be available to the entire College community through our 2014 Middle States accreditation site, http://www.ccp.edu/msche/.
There will also be numerous additional opportunities for input by the full College community. It will be important for our entire community to be acquainted with our final self-study report and our self-generated recommendations for improvement. Our external evaluation team will expect every college constituency to be knowledgeable about this process as a whole and, more significantly, the strategic priorities that emanate from this process.
Finally, embedded in each of the 14 standards that serve as the benchmarks for our self-study is the core principle that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Middle States evaluation team will be examining time and again: that we have in place documentable assessment processes at every level, that we can document the data that are derived as a result of those assessment processes and that we can document that we have utilized assessment results in all of our decision making.
In recent years we have focused heavily on creating a culture of assessment and a culture of evidence. The Middle States self-study and team visit now require us to prove that we have done so. This process is both exciting and demanding. At the end of the day, we can do more than gain renewal of our accreditation; we can also take our College to the next plateau of quality teaching and learning for the full benefit of all Philadelphians.