June 3, 2005
In the coming weeks, the University of Maine at Fort Kent campus community will put the finishing touches on a 100-page document which thoroughly examines every area on campus from the physical plant to faculty instruction.
The self study report will be submitted to the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the regional accreditation agency for over 200 colleges and universities in the six New England states.
Completion of the comprehensive report marks the end of a two-year effort that began in September 2003 with the naming of professors Rachel Albert and Kurt Holzhausen as self study co-chairs, and has since involved most of UMFK's 130 employees.
The overriding goal of the self-study is to prepare the campus for a visit by a NEASC external review team in November 2005. A group of seven reviewers will spend three days on the campus and ultimately be responsible for recommending the future status of the university's accreditation.
NEASC visiting team members will examine eleven standard areas, which include mission and purpose, planning and evaluation, organization and governance, programs and instruction, and student services.
"The eleven standards are each covered with a chapter in UMFK's self study document. The sections serve as an analysis of institutional effectiveness and quality in the identified areas, with the aims of identifying strengths, areas for continuous quality improvement, and projecting how these areas of concern are being addressed," said Holzhausen.
Over the past 18 months, following each of the NEASC standards and a framework of description, appraisal, and projection, each of the subcommittees completed their chapter drafts.
Chapter chairs along with their group members decided on a process to complete the chapters. Chairs met regularly with their committee members to conduct research, develop evidence, and draft responses to each of their standards.
"Honest appraisal, candor, and campus and community involvement were the guiding principles for the self study," said Albert. "We believe that the process has allowed us to hallmark our mission toward institutional effectiveness and demonstrate our commitment toward quality improvement as well as compliance with each of the standards."
As work on the self study draws to an end, focus shifts to preparations for the November 6 through 9 NEASC team visit.
Efforts began in April, when Dr. Joseph Mark, academic vice president at Castleton State College in Castleton, Vermont and chair of the NEASC visiting team that will review UMFK, visited the campus to meet with members of the university community and to discuss preliminary details for the visit.
In the coming weeks and months, Albert, Holzhausen and several other members of the campus community will work to ensure all the details are taken care of, from the necessary meeting and hospitality arrangements, to collection of dozens of documents and other supporting materials that will be available to the team members for review.