Middle States Commission offers Recommendations to University faculty and administrators

Brianna Marshall, Staff Writer

Philip Glotzbach, chair of the evaluation team for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, offered suggestions for improvements to the University, but also praised it as being “tremendous” during a recent visit from March 2-5.

Glotzbach’s campus stay is part of the process for re-accreditation of the University as an institution of higher education. Re-accreditation occurs every 10 years by an appointed commission that assesses standards ranging from academics to governance and administration.

Glotzbach delivered the oral report of Middle States Commission findings to faculty, staff, and students on March 5 in Trout Auditorium. He began by complimenting the University for its openness toward the Middle States process and criteria.

Glotzbach then confirmed findings of the University self-study, providing multiple recommendations relating to assessment. He expressed the necessity for collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering to promote “cross enrollment” for courses in both programs. He also voiced the commission’s concern about “adequacy of future staffing” in the College Core Curriculum (CCC) and various issues related to measuring student academic engagement. Middle States recommended that “all departments develop better assessment practices.”

The report discussed 14 standards and provided suggestions and recommendations. A midterm review will occur in five years, and recommendations will require a response at that time.

Provost Mick Smyer addressed Bucknell Student Government (BSG) on Feb. 23 in preparation for the Middle States report, noting that the University is aware of the need for changes in the area of “assessment.” Smyer was confident that the University has taken the necessary measures to be reaccredited without difficulty.

German and Humanities Professor Katie Faull and Physics Professor Tom Solomon led the Steering Committee in preparation for the Middle States visit. This committee participated in self-study initiatives to help university faculty and administration identify areas of difficulty and concern related to Middle States standards. The self-study report was released to the University community in January with self-recommendations and suggestions for areas of improvement in the near future.

In Glotzbach’s opinion, due to campus receptiveness to self-study, the University has “already gained 80 to 90 percent of the benefits” that Middles States reports encourage and provide. He acknowledged that the existing problems “will not be easy to resolve” but are representative of higher education concerns across the country.

The University will receive a final accreditation report in June 2014.

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