January 13, 2012 5:43 AM
It happens once every decade and the process is excruciating — two and one-half years of work by more than 100 people and submission of a 504-page report with 2,000 supporting documents. But there’s a happy ending to the university’s accreditation review: “We passed with flying colors,” says Katie Busby, director of institutional assessment.
A site visit to the uptown campus last spring by a 10-person team culminated the accreditation “reaffirmation,” as it’s officially called by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, but only recently did Tulane receive the official word.
The review committees made no recommendations, and no news, it seems, is good news. Busby explains that a recommendation “means the committee found your response lacking and the institution should make improvements to bring practices into compliance with the standards.” Receiving no recommendations is pretty rare, she says. “It really is something for all of us to be proud of.”
The compliance certification committee reviews prepared responses to 88 standards, ranging from operations and governance to finance and academic programs. A second body, the Quality Enhancement Plan committee, developed a new project based on feedback from the university community.
The “big idea” chosen by Tulane in the QEP process was CELT, the new Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching. Its mission is to help faculty members develop their teaching, bring together undergraduate students and faculty for research experiences, and encourage students to develop innovative solutions to social problems.
Provost Michael Bernstein says the reaffirmation signals that Tulane meets all federal, regional and professional expectations as an institution of higher learning and research.
The approval “also conveys to the wider public that it can have every confidence in the quality and reliability of the programs of instruction and training offered by the university,” he says.
The next decennial visit will be in 2021.
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