Middle States Accreditation
Shippensburg University is periodically reviewed by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), an accreditation body which “mandates that its member institutions meet rigorous and comprehensive standards.” Because the bar is set so high, once the process is completed successfully, Shippensburg can assuredly claim “Our students are well-served; society is well-served.”[i]
The accreditation process involves many stakeholders within the university, including administration, faculty, and students, engaging in conscious self-reflection. A committee made up of representatives from each of these areas examines the Middle States Standards for Accreditation, their Requirements of Affiliation, and relevant federal regulations. The group collects documentation and writes a Self-Study report demonstrating that Shippensburg is in full compliance with regulations and meets all of the relevant standards and requirements. Some of the issues the report will cover include: the quality of the education the university provides, how well we are achieving our previously established mission and goals (covered in the University Strategic Plan), and whether and how well all levels of the university are assessed on a regular basis. The completed report is then evaluated by a team of reviewers from MSCHE, to ensure that we are in fact meeting all of our goals in the way the self-study report claims we are. A successful evaluation results in renewed accreditation.
Ship is currently crafting its self-study, which will be complete by January 2019. As the protocol explains, “Our self-study, coinciding as it does with the launch of our new strategic plan, provides the opportunity for us to better know our university, to celebrate our achievements, and to identify those challenges that still lay before us. Our self-study will tell the story of the implementation of the University’s Strategic Plan through the lens of the MSCHE standards and requirements of accreditation. Our intended outcomes include:
- Demonstrating how Ship currently meets Middle States Standards for Accreditation, with a focus on how the standards align with our new strategic plan.
- Identifying current assessment practices to find challenges and opportunities and make recommendations for improvement in the collection, analysis, and use of assessment data as we strive to meet our goals and demonstrate our common values.
- Engaging in an open and honest self-appraisal process that engages members from all areas of the Ship community.
- Providing an accurate analysis of the university, including annual updates and reports, that can guide our new president through her transition to Shippensburg.
- Developing 3-5 self-recommended areas for improvement in the next eight years.
 Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation, 13th ed. (Philadelphia: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 2014), v.
During the spring semester, the Middle States Steering Committee accomplished a great deal. On February 28, the work groups completed first drafts of the seven chapters that will make up the university’s Self-Study Report. Co-Chairs Dr. Tracy Schoolcraft, Dr. José Ricardo, and Dr. Gretchen Pierce read the drafts and returned them with feedback. The work groups are currently in the process of revising their drafts, and they will be completed May 15th. Over the summer, the Co-Chairs will integrate all of the submissions into a single report and will also craft an introduction and conclusion to tie them all together. This work will be submitted to the campus community for feedback in Fall 2018. On October 19, 2018, Shippensburg will also host our Middle States Team Chair, Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner from SUNY-Buffalo State, who will help prepare us for our larger team visit in Spring 2019.
As the spring semester begins, the Middle States Steering Committee is hard at work. Academic and non-academic units alike throughout campus have submitted data that will be analyzed over the next couple of weeks by the committee’s work groups. By February 28, the work groups will have completed first drafts of the seven chapters that will make up the university’s Self-Study Report. Throughout the month of March, Co-Chairs Dr. Tracy Schoolcraft, Dr. José Ricardo, and Dr. Gretchen Pierce will be reviewing the drafts. The workgroups will then revise and resubmit their drafts to the Co-Chairs by May 15th. Over the summer, the Co-Chairs will craft a cohesive, integrated final draft and will submit it to the campus community for feedback in Fall 2018.
On October 13, 2017, Dr. Kushnood Haq, Shippensburg University’s Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) Liaison, visited campus. Throughout the day, he met with various constituents, including President Laurie Carter, Provost Barbara Lyman, representatives of the Council of Trustees, faculty, students, and members of the MSCHE Self-Study Steering Committee. The objectives of the visit were for Dr. Haq to familiarize himself with Shippensburg University, assess whether we are fulfilling the criteria of the MSCHE standards, and to better educate the campus community about the process of writing a Self-Study Report. Dr. Haq was pleased to note how student-centered the university was and spoke highly of our students who seemed content, well-informed, and engaged in campus affairs. A few days later, he formally approved the Self-Study Design that Acting Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, Dr. Jim Delle, had taken the lead in drafting, in collaboration with co-chairs Associate Provost Dr. Tracy Schoolcraft, Special Assistant for Educational Effectiveness Assessment Dr. José Ricardo, and Associate Professor Dr. Gretchen Pierce. Throughout the rest of the school year, members of the Steering Committee will sort through documentation provided by academic programs, student service departments, and administrative offices and start writing the report. A polished draft will be written in Summer 2018 and circulated broadly for feedback in Fall 2018. A review team will visit campus in Spring 2019 and MSCHE will render its decision that fall. For further questions on the process, please contact: Dr. Tracy Schoolcraft, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last semester, Shippensburg University began the process of preparing for its next Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) Self-Study Report in order to renew its accreditation. A steering committee with broad representation was formed by Interim President Lyman and members continue to be added. As part of the process, a Self-Study design was created. Acting Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, Jim Delle took the lead in drafting the Self-Study design in collaboration with co-chairs Tracy Schoolcraft, José Ricardo, and Gretchen Pierce. This fall, that steering committee, working with both academic and non-academic units across campus, will began compiling evidence to demonstrate that the university is in compliance with MSCHE’s seven Standards, fifteen Requirements of Affiliation, and federal Department of Education regulations. The university’s MSCHE liaison, Dr. Kushnood Haq, will visit the campus October 13 to answer any questions that the Shippensburg community might have about the process. Early drafts of the Self-Study report will be completed in Spring 2018. A polished draft will be written in Summer 2018 and circulated broadly for feedback in Fall 2018. The review team will visit campus in Spring 2019 and MSCHE will render its decision that fall. For questions on the process, please contact: Dr. Tracy Schoolcraft, email@example.com.