October 28, 2005
On November 6 through 9, a team of peer reviewers representing the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), will visit the University of Maine at Fort Kent to evaluate the institution on behalf of the regional accrediting body.
The group selected by the NEASC Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE), will travel to Fort Kent as part of UMFK's ten-year accreditation review.
The visiting team members include seven representatives of colleges and universities from throughout the New England region that are similar in size and governance to the St. John Valley campus.
"Our institution is well-prepared for this visit," said UMFK President Richard Cost. "Our efforts for this accreditation review began more than two years ago, and in that period of time, nearly every individual on our campus and numerous individuals in the community have been engaged in the process in one way or another."
At UMFK, the visiting team's mission is to examine the NEASC-established eleven standard areas, which include mission and purpose, planning and evaluation, organization and governance, programs and instruction, student services, faculty, physical and financial resources, integrity, library and information resources, and public disclosure.
The review team will reference each of the standards as they are covered in UMFK's own self-study document. The sections of the 100-page report submitted to NEASC in August, serve as an analysis of institutional effectiveness and quality in the identified areas, with the aim of identifying strengths, areas for continuous quality improvement, and projections on how these areas of concern are being addressed.
Leading the team is Dr. Joseph Mark, academic vice president at Castleton State College in Castleton, Vermont.
Accompanying Mark will be Dr. Ellen Russell Beatty, associate vice president of academic affairs at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut; Dr. Bruce Berryman, chair of the department of meteorology at Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, Vermont; William Crangle, vice president for financial affairs at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire; Irene Herold, director of the Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire; Linda Jansky, vice president for student development at Rivier College in Nashua, New Hampshire; and Dr. Dan King, vice president for academic affairs at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island.
In addition to the team members, an observer, Dr. Richard Hopper, an education specialist with The World Bank, will accompany the reviewers to Fort Kent.
"The UMFK community is ready and looking forward to hosting the NEASC team. We have paid attention to every final logistical detail to ensure a smooth visit. Supporting documents have been prepared as evidence of meeting each standard. Meetings with key constituents have been arranged to allow the site visitors an opportunity to gather further information," said Rachel Albert, interim vice president for academic affairs and co-chair for the NEASC review efforts at UMFK. "Together we have worked very hard and in the process have learned a lot about ourselves and what we do well as well as areas needing continuous quality improvement. We want the peer reviewers to get a full flavor for what we are all about and we welcome a fair critical review."
The team will arrive in Fort Kent on Sunday, November 6 and begin their visit at an official welcome dinner, where they will first meet with UMFK leadership, members of the campus NEASC steering committee, and UMFK community leaders.
Over the following two days team members will hold several meetings with faculty, staff, and students.
On Wednesday, November 9, the NEASC team will meet to prepare an oral report on their findings at UMFK, which they will deliver in an open meeting on the same day at a time to be determined. The report will not include a recommendation on re-accreditation, but will feature commendations and suggestions for continued improvement.
UMFK officials will be presented a first draft of the written report in December for a review of factual accuracy. A final report on the team visit will be submitted to the commission in mid-January 2006.
The accreditation report review and subsequent decision by CIHE will be made in May or June 2006.
In advance of the visit, and in preparation for the review, NEASC is inviting members of the public to submit comments that address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution to: Public Comment on the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, 209 Burlington Road, Bedford, MA 01730-1433. Comments can also be e-mailed to email@example.com.
Written, signed comments must be received by November 9, 2005. The commission cannot guarantee that letters received after that due date will be considered. Comments should include the name, address, and telephone number of the person providing the submission. Comments will not be treated as confidential.
The Commission on Institutions of Higher Education is one of the eight organizations in the United States, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, which provides institutional accreditation on a regional basis. Approximately 200 colleges and universities in the six-state New England region are served by CIHE.
Accreditation is voluntary and applies to the institution as a whole.
UMFK has been accredited by the Commission since 1970, and was last reviewed in November 1995. The accreditation encompasses the entire institution.
The full self-study document, prepared by the UMFK campus in preparation for the accreditation review, can be accessed by the public on UMFK's website at: www.umfk.maine.edu/selfstudy.