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Updated 1:30 PM October 12, 2007




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van der Pluijm to lead accreditation effort

Every 10 years the University goes through a process of re-accreditation, but this time around institutions will have new criteria to follow that were established in January 2006 by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
(Photo courtesy Ben Van Der Pluijm)

To help the University prepare for the 2010 review and navigate the changes, Provost Teresa Sullivan has appointed Professor Ben van der Pluijm as senior counselor to the provost for University accreditation, effective July 1.

van der Pluijm will direct a variety of activities in preparation for the University's re-accreditation review, working with Assistant Provost Glenda Haskell and people inside and outside of the institution. He says the process begins with a two-year self-study that will require the help and cooperation of units across the entire campus.

"The HLC changes encourage institutions to focus much less on standard performance indicators and more on mission, outreach and planning for the future, and engaging in dialogue about the ways faculty and staff can create an environment that allows students to experience the Michigan difference in the benefits they reap, educationally and personally, from their time here," van der Pluijm says.

van der Pluijm is a professor of geology and of the environment who has been a member of the faculty since 1985. He also serves as director of the Global Change Program, which offers an interdisciplinary approach to undergraduate science and social science education. In addition, he is chair of the Multidisciplinary Learning and Team Teaching Steering Committee, which is responsible for a $2.5 million initiative President Mary Sue Coleman launched in 2005 to support team-teaching and interdisciplinary courses and programs for undergraduate students.

He has held several other administrative and professional positions, including serving as editor of the journal Geology. His research focuses on the deformation of Earth material, from microscopic to mountain range scales. He has published more than 140 articles and edited several books.

HLC is an independent corporation that holds membership in the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, one of six regional agencies that provide institutional accreditation on a geographical basis.

"The HLC allows complex institutions like the U-M to tailor its re-accreditation activities by emphasizing the study of a topic that is important to the University. After consultation with deans and others, the 2010 re-accreditation process will include a special emphasis study on the topic of internationalization," Sullivan says.

Universities voluntarily seek accreditation to demonstrate to the public, particularly prospective students, their commitments to exemplary higher education standards. U-M has been an accredited institution since 1913.

HLC evaluates institutions in five major categories: mission and integrity; preparing for the future; student learning and effective teaching; acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge; and engagement and service.

Comments about the accreditation process should be sent to

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