Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, March 11, 2010

U-M prepares for reaccreditation team visit

More than 300 people from within U-M and outside will be involved in about 60 meetings on campus next week as part of the university’s reaccreditation process.

To remain accredited — a demonstration to the public and the federal government of an institution’s quality and commitment to higher education standards — universities must go through a process every 10 years that includes a self-study and site visit by the accrediting organization.

Planning for the March 15-17 campus visit began last fall after a visit from Higher Learning Commission (HLC) review team chair Celestino Fernàndez, an experienced HLC team chair and a professor of sociology at the University of Arizona. Fernàndez, with input from U-M, has selected the session topics for the accreditation visit with the review team members being in charge of the meetings.

“Beyond the assurance part of the visit, which is about being reaccredited, we’re also looking forward to the team’s observations and ideas about the questions we’ve asked ourselves and the recommendations we’ve put forward as we look to the future,” says Ben van der Pluijm, senior counselor to the provost for university accreditation and professor of geology.

The purpose of the meetings is for the team to collect additional information related to the U-M’s request for reaccreditation and to review the university’s efforts through its self study, says Glenda Haskell, assistant vice provost for academic and faculty affairs.

The hotlinked version of the university’s self-study titled “The University of Michigan: An Institution of Global Learning, Knowledge and Engagement” and supporting documents are available on the Web at accreditation.umich.edu.

During the three-day visit, the team will conduct close to 70 meetings with university members and representatives of U-M’s external constituencies.

“This diverse, representative group will include leadership at various levels, faculty members across the disciplines, undergraduate and graduate students, and staff members in a range of roles,” van der Pluijm says. “During this visit, they will be the face of our institution.”

In an effort to solicit input from faculty, staff and students, the review team also has scheduled open meetings, which will take place at 4 p.m. March 15 in the Michigan League.

For institutions like U-M, the HLC allows a special emphasis in the self-study. U-M chose to explore the question of what it means to be an international university and to become a leader in global enagagement.

During this visit, the review team will be divided into six teams in line with the five criteria for reaccreditation and the special emphasis study on internationalization. At the end of the visit, review teams members will draft team reports focusing on two main areas:

• Whether the university meets the HLC’s criteria for reaccreditation and if follow up is needed.

• Observations about opportunities for improvement.

The university began preparations for reaccreditation in the summer of 2007. At the end of the visit from the review team, the team chair will share its recommendation for reaccreditation during an exit session with President Mary Sue Coleman and campus leaders.

After the visit, the chair will send a copy of the team report, with assurance and improvement sections, that includes wording for the Statement of Affiliation status to Coleman, who may then send a formal written response. Next, the HLC will appoint a group to review the documents and form a response to the university’s request for reaccreditation. After this the HLC will notify Coleman of U-M’s updated status of affiliation.

“After more than two and a half years of preparation and planning, we’re looking forward to the review team’s visit and their comments,” van der Pluijm says. “Going beyond the university’s self-study report, the visit will give the team the chance to meet face-to-face with lots of interesting people in our university community and to get a first-hand view of our strong commitment to higher education.”