By Yasha Washington, Staff Reporter, The Hilltop
April 18, 2019
On Tuesday, April 16 Howard University hosted the Middle States HU Self-Study Town Hall in the Interdisciplinary Research Building. The public meeting contained information and updates regarding Howard’s road to reaccreditation, which predominantly consists of a two-year-long self-evaluation and reporting process. Currently, Howard is approximately a year into the process.
“For the past 15 years Howard students, in terms of the SAT and ACT scores and their high school GPAs, have been going up,” said chair of the self-study Dr. Rubin Patterson. “Not just overall as a trend but every single year. You wouldn’t get those kinds of students if you didn’t have accreditation.”
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is responsible for more than 525 accredited and candidate institutions, located in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and many other locations across the nation and globe. Every eight years, to remain affiliated with the MSCHE, colleges and universities must conduct an in-depth self-study proving that they satisfy the seven MSCHE standards. The standards are: Missions and Goals; Ethics and Integrity; Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience; Support of the Student Experience; Educational Effectiveness Assessment; Planning Resources and Institutional Improvement; Governance, Leadership and Administration.
To complete the self-study, a university-wide steering committee is created, comprised of faculty and students from each of the 13 schools and colleges. The committee is divided into eight separate working groups, with the first seven assigned to each MSCHE standard.
Each group drafts an individual report regarding their assigned standard, which are later consolidated into a single 100-page report. The reports are then reviewed and confirmed by the eighth working group, called the Requirements of Affiliation.
“First and foremost, the purpose of the self-study is to lead to reaffirmation,” said Patterson. “But we also, in the process of carrying out this exercise, make an examination of the university to hopefully result in a limited number of areas that we can actually concentrate our minds going forward.”
Thus far Howard seems to meet each of the seven standards fairly well. Howard exceeds national averages and surpasses competitor schools in multiple areas, including student retention rates and financial aid.
The town hall emphasized both the necessity of accreditation and the principle of Kgotla. Originated from Botswana, the Kgotla is a community forum or meeting at which issues concerning the tribe are discussed and all individuals are encouraged to speak. Patterson applied the definition of Kgotla to the self-study process, naming students and faculty alike as the tribe and re-accreditation as the common issue or goal.
“Reaffirmation of accreditation is important for all of us,” said Dr. Daphne Bernard, the associate provost for institutional accreditation and assessment. “I’m really excited to see that we’re having a town hall where we are continuing to give opportunities for the community to engage. We want to hear your thoughts. We want to give you an opportunity to engage and be a part of what we’re doing on behalf of the university.”