The college is taking initial steps that are ultimately intended to garner re-accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.The Middle States Commission requires that accredited schools be reviewed every 10 years; the first stage of the review includes a self-study of the institution by members of its own community.
"We begin by putting together a steering committee that proposes the design of the self-study," said Dave Gordon, associate provost and co-chair of the steering committee.
"The theme of this year's self-study will be transformational learning," said Ray Spear, biology professor and co-chair of the committee. "We're focusing on learning beyond the classroom, combining what's going on in the classroom with what's going on in your life."
"There are three components of transformational learning," Gordon said. "Engaged learning, psycho-social well-being and civic engagement and civil learning."
The steering committee finished its proposal on March 22 and is awaiting approval from the Commission, a regional organization that concentrates on evaluating schools in New York, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
If the proposal is approved, members of the steering committee will write a formal self-assessment to be completed by summer 2011 and provided to the Middle States visiting committee that fall.Some questions that the study seeks to answer are: "Are we, as a College, achieving our goals?" and "What can we do to improve our effectiveness in achieving our goals?”
The process will conclude with a visit by a Middle States evaluation team comprised of faculty, staff and administrators from Middle States-accredited schools outside of New York in spring 2012.
"They'll be moving about the campus, talking to people and examining evidence of things said in the self-study," Gordon said.
Spear said that accreditation is crucial to institutions of higher education.
"In many cases, no accreditation means to funding … student aid and government aid should go to legitimate colleges, and accreditation by one of these regional bodies is an indication of such legitimacy."
"We really encourage students to participate in the process by providing feedback to working groups and staying informed about the process," Gordon said.
A liaison from the Middle States Commission will come to Geneseo on April 5 to speak with the steering committee, President Christopher Dahl, Provost Carol Long and faculty, staff and student representatives about the self-study and the accreditation standards, which can be viewed online at msche.org.