Oswego State seeks input on 10-year accrediation study

College officials are in the final stages of gathering input from the campus community on a self-study report that will guide the direction Oswego State takes in the next decade.

Every 10 years, the college conducts a self-study in advance of its reaccreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Higher Education.

Students, staff and faculty can read and comment on the first few chapters of the 100-page self-study online or at public forums in the Campus Center.

Every institution of higher education that receives federal money has to be accredited and reaccredited every 10 years. The linchpin of the reaccreditation process is the campus Middle States Steering Committee, an army including dozens of faculty, staff and students. The committee began work on the self-study in 2010 and now the 100-page draft is entering its final stages.

Middle States has 14 specific standards the college must meet, or risk losing its accreditation. That means losing a variety of federal funding, which is especially crucial to public schools. However, losses of accreditation or even probation are rare.

“There are certain areas where we can improve, but I’m very confident we’re in compliance with the 14 standards,” economics professor, Elizabeth Schmitt said. “As a SUNY school, we’re really advantaged in this process.”

Schmitt co-chairs the Middle States Reaccreditation Steering Committee for the college and began work on the project in 2009. SUNY schools typically find accreditation easier because they are already required to meet many of the standards for accreditation, she said. Vocational schools tend to struggle with accreditation the most.

“We’re really proud of all that we’ve accomplished in the last 10 years,” Schmitt said. “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it well.”

Rather than a hoop the college has to jump through to be reaccredited, Schmitt said the self-study report is a chance for the school to reflect on where it came from, where it’s going and what it can improve upon. People forget to look at the big picture and ask how well the college is accomplishing its long-term goals, Schmitt said.

The self-study comes at a time in Oswego State’s history when things have been changing. Building projects and new initiatives have become common place in recent years and the strides the college has made over the last decade are reflected in the report, Schmitt said.

Although the bulk of the report is completed, the steering committee is reaching out to the community for more input before a final revision. The committee has received dozens of comments on its website and many more at several public forums that have already been held.

After the last public forums and final revisions, copies of the self-study will be printed in December. Several visits from Middle States representatives are scheduled and Oswego State officials would not have a final report from the accrediting organization until late spring.

To view drafts of the self-study, visit http://www.oswego.edu/academics/middlestates.html.

Forums scheduled this month. One will be on Thursday, Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. and the other will be on Wednesday Oct. 19 at 12:30 p.m. Both will take place in Room 114 of the Campus Center. Comment boxes will be available at the discussions.

Anonymous feedback by visiting http://www.oswego.edu/academics/middlestates.html

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