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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis prepares for accreditation process

Published: September 23, 2005
Section: News

Brandeis is currently in the process of re-accreditation. In order to assess each institution based on its own progress and in comparison to other institutes of higher education, assure the public of quality and give institutions a chance to self assess and improve, re-accreditation is conducted by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) every ten years.

Those overseeing the 2006-2007 re-accreditation process at Brandeis are Co-Chairs Executive Vice President Peter French and Provost Marty Krauss, who were appointed by President Reinharz for this task.

The University Advisory Council and Project Managers, Associate Provost Michael Whelan and Vice President for Budget and Planning Jim Hurley, will be acting as a steering committee.

According to French Academic and administrative staff will do the writing and the basic tasks with faculty overseeing and reacting to the work thats being done.

The re-accreditation occurs in three phases. The first is a self-study which is a hundred page reportin which the university is presenting itself and writing about itself for the benefit of the team that will be visiting said John Hose, Assistant to the President and the liason between the University and NEASC.
The self-study began in February of 2005 and will continue until the summer of 2006.

Second, is an on-site evaluation by peer evaluators which is slated to take place from November 12-15 of 2006.

And last, is the NEASC review which processes the re-accreditation request, which will be completed in the spring of 2007.

The NEASC standards under which the self-study is based are: mission and purposes, planning and evaluation, organization and governance, the academic program, faculty, students, library and other information resources, physical and technological resources, financial resources, public disclosure and integrity.

The self-study provides the university with an important thing for an institution to do because every ten years it puts us in a position to step back and have us look at what weve done, where weve been and where were going and to assess ourselves in terms of what the issues of the day are within the university and within higher education and within society in general and is [higher education] still relevant said French.
The last accreditation occurred 1996-1997 and identified areas that the university needed to focus on such as establishing and implementing a salary plan that enables the institution to recruit and maintain appropriately qualified faculty and staff and addressing issues resulting from deferred maintenance, especially undergraduate and graduate student housing. Brandeis has taken steps to work on these goals including the creation of an Integrated Plan, which is available online.

From an administrative stand point we have or are in the midst of addressing major issues that were raised in the 1997 planFor example, faculty salaries were a major recommendation and were in the second year of a program [addressing that issue] There were recommendations made regarding physical facilities and maintenance and we have made very significant investments here particularly in the last 5 years said French.
Ive been through this several times and there are a couple of ways that you could approach this. You could approach this and say that this is just something else weve got to do My experience has been that this can be a very positive and productive exercise. It forces an institution to come together and to do a prospective and a retrospective in terms of where theyve been and where theyre going. It can be a very helpful thing because re-accreditation requires that the entire community be involved in the process French said.

Hurley added that students will be looped in more through communications regarding re-accreditation that will be coming up and [will be shared] in advance. Student representatives to the board and the other university governance committees that exist are going to be the primary way that student input will be [handled].

Additionally to this, the draft of the self study will be available for the whole community to review and students will be able to provide feedback. Krauss said that, this will be a very transparent and open process and that we want to learn from this [and come out] with new priorities and self reflection.
Hose, who was involved in the past two accreditations, said there isnt any question that Brandeis wont be reaccreditedthe biggest challenge is preparation. The story that Brandeis has to tell is an enormously positive one. In the last ten years, there have been dramatic accomplishments.