Chapter 2: The 2005 Self-Study: An Overview of the Process
2003 to the Present
Although the reaccreditation process has been ongoing since the last site visit, the work of the Committee established in January 2003 has occurred in four phrases: 1) understanding, 2) planning the process, 3) informing the community, 4) collecting, evaluating, and writing. Minutes of the Committee meetings reflect these basic types of activities.
Initial meetings of the Committee had two foci: 1) the concerns and suggestions of the 1995 Self-Study and 2) the HLC’s new Criteria and Core Components for evaluation. Because of the changes in the accreditation criteria, these educative processes were crucial to members of the Steering Committee who did not participate in 1995 as well as to those already familiar with the NCA/HLC.
Planning the process
With some understanding of the accreditation process, past and present, in November 2003 the Committee drafted and submitted the goals and objectives of the present Self-Study to the HLC office. Meetings during this period also began to consider the best way to evaluate the University’s status for reaccreditation while using existing data and involving the campus community. Some questions the Steering Committee asked itself during this period were
The Steering Committee chose to link the 2005 Self-Study with the University’s continuing long-range planning process. This linkage was endorsed by President Keiser and the Administrative Council and as can be seen from the Self-Study timeline both these activities officially began in January 2004.
Preparation of both the long-range plan and the 2005 Self-Study used existing committees as much as possible. With a desire to have as little duplication of effort as possible, four of the HLC Steering Committee members (Jim Baker, Roger Sell, Lois Shufeldt, and Bill Cheek) also served on the University Planning and Advisory Committee (UPAC), responsible for the long-range plan.
In addition, the Steering Committee believed that, with more than 600 faculty, staff, and students serving on 72 University committees, posing evaluative questions regarding the Criteria and Core Components to these existing committees, as well as to departments, colleges, and non-academic offices or “units” would best involve the campus community. Students contributed their ideas through the reports submitted by the Student Government Association and by Student Affairs. A listing of all University standing committees, as well as membership on these committees, may be found in the 2004/2005 Committee Handbook.
After much discussion of which existing committees and units might best provide certain types of evidence, the Steering Committee created a complex matrix which interweaves existing committees and units with HLC Criteria and Core Components. (This system was the subject of a presentation at the 2005 HLC Annual Meeting.) The matrix allowed the Steering Committee to make sure all criteria were covered, gave the Committee a check-off chart, and allowed the Committee to show internal and external constituents how the entire campus was involved.
The Steering Committee used the matrix to develop questions to be addressed to each committee and academic or non-academic unit involved. The questions, based on the Criteria and Core Components, enabled committees and units to give the Steering Committee the information needed to fulfill the Self-Study’s goals and objectives.
Informing the Community
The HLC Criteria for Accreditation were made a part of the long-range planning process and were distributed to the campus community as work progressed.
While the Steering Committee was working, UPAC held open forums to obtain input for the long-range plan, Daring to Excel. Select task forces prepared reports for the plan, which became part of the Self-Study.
In addition to posting material to readily available Web sites (notably the Daring to Excel site, as well as the University’s Accreditation site), early in 2004 the Chair of the Steering Committee, Dr. Bill Cheek, presented information about the HLC reaccreditation process to various groups including the Faculty Senate and the Academic Administrators Assembly. In September 2004, the Steering Committee used the matrix to develop charges and distributed these to committees and non-academic and academic units. An announcement regarding the HLC accreditation process and procedures for public comments appeared in the SMS Magazine (Summer 2005).
Collecting, Evaluating, and Writing
Responses to the charges were due to the Steering Committee in December 2004. This information, submitted in the form of reports, supplemented the data available to the Committee through existing sources, such as the Office of Institutional Research and the annually reported Performance Measures.
In January 2005, the Committee began considering these responses and data, looking for 1) strengths and challenges, and 2) examples of evidence that the University is fulfilling the Criteria and Core Components. Sub-groups of the Steering Committee summarized the findings.
The Committee collaboratively determined how to organize this report and drafted, through subcommittees, chapters according to themes. During the drafting and revising process, managed by a writing subcommittee, the Steering Committee continued to provide feedback, especially regarding challenges facing the institution and recommendations the Self-Study would make in order to stimulate improvement. In addition, feedback from the campus community was actively encouraged throughout the process:
The overriding goal of the Self-Study is to show that Missouri State is mission-focused and guided by a long-range vision.
In sum, the Steering Committee views the preparation of the long-range plan, Daring to Excel as one part of the 2005 Self-Study. Another part, manifest in this report, evaluated the degree to which Missouri State meets the HLC Criteria and Core Components. The preparation of the long-range plan and the Self-Study was a collaborative effort involving internal and external constituents. The two resulting documents complement one another by providing a comprehensive portrait and guide for the future. The results not only provide convincing documentation that Missouri State meets all the Criteria for Accreditation but also have proven to be beneficial to the University as it continues to plan, implement, and evaluate changes to better meet the needs of its many constituencies.
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