Editorial: Re-accreditation provides a necessary critical look

Recently, members from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education came to re-accredit the academic initiatives, governance standards, and administration at the University. Luckily, the Middle States Commission says that as an institution, we are already doing 80 to 90 percent of what they suggest we should do. They called us a “tremendous” institution. Score. Ironically, the small percentage of what they said we should improve is assessment: better evaluations for each academic department.

How many times have we filled out the same fill-in-the-bubble assessments for each of our classes? While these assessments are certainly useful for our professors and University faculty, it may be better if they were geared toward each individual academic major or minor program. Perhaps more detailed assessments asking about specific class assignments and projects, how students in each different major interact differently with their professors, or the experiences of, for example, engineers versus English majors on their midterms and finals. Not limited to inside the classroom, these assessments could also relate to out-of-the-classroom study habits, professor availability, and the like to provide a more complete picture of the sphere of academia at the University.

Despite a potential need for these more academically-specific evaluation practices, the Middle States Commission also highlighted the need for more cross-collaboration between academic departments. In Brianna Marshall’s ’15 article on page A1, she states that Philip Glotzbach, chair of the evaluation team for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, suggested a necessary collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. While this may seem like a stretch, it’s not a bad idea at all. Sure, it may be difficult to encourage students to sign up for combined engineering and humanities courses, but why not give it a try? We go to a liberal arts school for a reason; it’s necessary that our tuition bill does not just go towards courses in our major, but courses beyond our comfort-zone discipline.

Hopefully from this advice, the University will consider more specific academic assessments–both for students and for professors and faculty–and will work towards a more integrated campus academic community by providing more cross-disciplinary classes. While the Middle States Commission has already praised the University as an outstanding institution, there is always room for improvement, no matter how many incredible academic and extra-curricular opportunities are provided to students. Although criticism is tough to face, its also easy to embrace when thinking about the overall betterment of our University; it’s a no-brainer.

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