GW readies for accredation process

GW administrators have formed a steering committee to focus on a self-evaluation of the University’s academic programs and campus operations in preparation for an accreditation process.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education conducts a voluntary university accreditation program every 10 years to assess universities’ quality of education.

“GW has already begun preparations for the next accreditation which will culminate in a site visit tentatively scheduled for April 2008,” said Craig Linebaugh, GW associate vice president for Academic Planning. “The University will form a steering committee that will determine the design of the self-study and lead the University community through the process.”

The steering committee will decide the focus of the self-study review and act as a guide through the accreditation process, Linebaugh said. The full steering committee will not be appointed until later this year. Forrest Maltzman, political science professor, will serve as chair of the committee, and Linebaugh will serve as co-chair.

Though the steering committee has not begun its full self-investigation, Maltzman listed several University strengths and weaknesses that the committee will address.

“There are numerous obvious strengths, such as the quality of the student body, and unfortunately some areas of frustration too, such as the availability of classrooms,” he said.

Maltzman said the accreditation process is being broken down into two main components: first, an external evaluation of the University’s academic quality, and second, a self-inspection by the University, guided by the steering committee.

“The purpose of the committee is to collect the information needed by those who provide us with our accreditation and to help us evaluate ourselves,” he said.

Linebaugh added that since GW’s last accreditation in 2003, the University has made numerous improvements on campus.

“The University has improved in virtually every aspect, including major enhancements of academic programs, research, technology, our libraries, our student services, academic and residential facilities,” he said.

Since 1919, the commission has accredited 503 schools. GW received its first accreditation from Middle States in 1922 and was last re-accredited in 2003. For the 2013 accreditation, the self-study and site visit is tentatively scheduled to occur in April 2008.

Linebaugh said GW voluntarily submits to the assessment program, even though it requires extensive internal review, because it is an important test of GW’s commitment to academic integrity.

“(Accreditation) verifies that GW’s academic programs and operations are of high quality, consistent with the standards for quality higher education,” he said.

The self-study process requires a university to take an in-depth look at its operations and address its practices based on Middle States’ evaluation standards, which include a university’s mission, resources and faculty.

Julie Green Bataille, assistant vice president for communications at Georgetown University, said Georgetown also opts to participate in the Middle States accreditation process in order to better the quality of education that can be found at their institution.

“We undergo this review and accreditation process every 10 years in an effort to look internally at ways we can improve our efforts and gain the insight of peers about measures we can take to enhance the educational experience at Georgetown,” she said.

American University also receives accreditation from Middle States every 10 years. Like GW, its preparation process for the self-review is guided by a project team, said Maralee Csellar, American’s assistant director of media relations.

Linebaugh said Middle States is not the only university accreditation group but said that it “is the most comprehensive, encompassing the University as a whole.” Specific schools or programs within a university are usually given accredited status by smaller, more focused groups.

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