Leading my college’s 10-year comprehensive accreditation visit has been a two-year endeavor that culminated with our visit last week. By all accounts, the visit went well. The concerns found by the team were not surprising. They identified areas that we know we need to work on as an institution. There were many items that did not make it on the top 10 accolades and concerns list, but folks with whom I spoke felt confident that the full report will reflect the issues they underscored as being important to them. There is nothing better after an accreditation visit than a college that feels that all segments were heard and a fair report was issued.
After the Anticlimactic Exit Report
The exit report was the only disappointment as it was swift and with no opportunities for the audience to ask questions or offer any additional insight. The ending was anti-climactic for most. The post-accreditation party I hosted at a local restaurant gave those of us who attended an opportunity to decompress together, celebrate, and even began strategizing the next big projects. There was something not just joyful, but familial about the gathering. There was a sense of satisfaction and delight, not just relief to be done. Perhaps, there will be more off-campus college-wide celebrations in our future!
Reconnecting with my Family
For me, it was great to be done! I slept like a baby the evening the team left. I celebrated with close friends and reconnected with my family over the next few days. My son learned a new song, of my choosing, on Youtube and played it for me on the piano. I set up my daughter’s first piano lesson to take place two days later. She came back and played those few first notes she learned with pride and enthusiasm for her mama. I went to see them at their capoeira class doing single-hand and handless flips. We watched Tom & Jerry and Survivor on the internet and read books together, which we haven’t done for weeks.
The best part of those post-accreditation experiences was being able to attend my son’s parent/teacher conference. I was very glad to have heard it all first-hand instead of from hubby. Our sweet, sweet boy who has always been the model child and model boy was now caving to peer pressure and acting like a “normal” boy. I am still deliberating over how I will have my conversation with him. Having had a serious conversation with him earlier in the week around what strategies he will use to improve his grades (which were for the most part very good) that started with him crying over his own disappointment in himself, I want to be careful how I broach this one. To be honest his crying before I even saw the report card made me proud, as I believe that one’s sense of pride in one’s work and own standard of excellence matters much more than others’ evaluation of one’s work. To see that it was important to him that he does better made me smile on the inside, as I helped him celebrate the areas where he did exceedingly well.
What’s Next, You Ask?
With one big project behind me, I have already tackled on the task of leading the development of the strategic academic plan with a focus on academic and non-credit program development, academic quality, student success, and financial strength with the college’s deans. The major challenge for us is integrating faculty and staff in the conceptualizing, planning, and ultimately the execution of that work. I welcome insights from those of you who have led this kind of work before.
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