Self-study reflects on campus mission

A self-study report, which has been circulated across campus, has identified that Oswego State can improve communication, but is handling budget cuts and enrollment well.

The report is the result of a three-year Middle States re-accreditation process, which peer reviews Oswego State and over 500 other higher educational institutions in its region.

“It’s our colleagues that will release a judgment of what we’re doing and what we say we want to do,” Middle States co-chair Elizabeth Schmitt said. “And that we meet standards appropriate for an institution of higher education.”

The re-accreditation process is essential in allowing students to receive Title IV funding, like student loans and Pell Grants. It also gives the campus the chance to self-analyze and discuss things that could be improved upon and as a result of the self-report, have instituted changes.

“One of the things that the study does is have research questions,” Schmitt said. “It’s the workgroups that answer these research questions. The self-study isn’t really a report, it’s much more analytical and reflective than just recording facts and figures.”

One major issue is with communication. Mass emails are often sent out to an entire campus, but largely are ignored because they are not specific to the readers, said the co-chairs.

“They think everyone is informed because they sent an email,” co-chair Julie Pretzat said.

“When you send everything to everyone, who reads it? No one,” Schmitt said.

Electronic reading is much different than print reading, the co-chairs said. People tend to skim over emails or completely ignore them.

Another issue with communication is that often emails requiring feedback are sent out, and these emails continue getting passed to the next appropriate person. The original sender, however in need of feedback, often does not receive any. Sometimes people don’t know where it was going.

“We made a shift and treated [electronics] as perfect substitute [for print], but they’re not,” Pretzat said.

 

The registrar has been working on improving how they communicate about fines that need to be paid and raising awareness. The changes that have been made to target communication have been fairly simple.

“Implementation is not difficult in a digital era,” Pretzat said.

Budget cuts have also been impacting campus. However, the co-chairs said, Oswego State is handling the cuts well compared to many other institutions. Oswego did not have to cut academic programs.

“I think, frankly, compared to some of our sister schools in the SUNY system we handled the financial setbacks incredibly well,” Pretzat said. “We maintained the academic programs here and other schools weren’t able to do that.”

Oswego State has also been working on shifting the make-up of its entering classes. Over the last 10 years, the standards for admittance have increased and there is a greater amount of geographic diversity.

“We’ve set some goals about the quality of our entering students, the diversity that class and the geographic diversity,” Schmitt said. “In particular, dealing with the population decline of upstate and recruiting more heavily from downstate. We’ve met all our goals.”

The Middle States review committee will be on campus to talk to administrators, faculty and students on April 2, 3 and 4.

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