I am getting ready to leave to be part of a reaccreditation team at an out of state University. The University and the school involved are first rate and I am also pleased to be part of a strong reaccreditation team. I agree, approximately every other year, to be part of a reaccreditation team and I think this is an important responsibility for deans and provosts. I know it is always difficult to leave your office for an extended period to focus on the strengths and challenges of another institution but I also believe we are all stronger as a result of this self monitoring process.
I have been involved with accreditation for decades, first on the receiving end as dean and provost and also on the “giving” end once again as dean and provost. My initial experience was helping get ready for both Middle States and AACSB visits many decades ago and subsequently, I also gained experience as part of multiple visiting teams. There has never been a visit that I have been on or a visit that I have prepared for that hasn’t resulted in my being better informed and better able to function as dean or provost. In addition, self monitoring through a regional accreditation organization or a specialized discipline based organization is so much better, more helpful, and more accurate in my opinion than having government involved more than it already is in these areas. Just seeing how government has recently dealt with K-12 testing in New York or teacher and administrator evaluations has reinforced my strong feelings in this area. Only when over testing has reached crisis proportions does government finally realize that perhaps they have gone too far. And now, how do we reverse the negative effect on the students involved? I have to believe that if superintendents, principals and teachers were leading this effort the results would have been different, and I think the same situation applies in higher education.
Very often, accreditation teams seem to be populated by individuals who have been involved in many previous accreditations and previous visits. I recognize that I resemble that remark and I also recognize the value of experienced accreditors. But I also understand the value of new blood. I don’t have the data to know whether there are many new deans and provosts involved in accreditation activities. But I think this involvement is extremely important and should be encouraged. When the next opportunity arises to be involved in this effort, please say yes and encourage your colleagues to do likewise. It really does make the positive difference we are all looking for.