A peer review team is coming to Rutgers for a four-day visit starting March 19 as part of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation process.
The nine-member team will meet with board members, faculty, students and administrators across the university at all locations. Members of the team – comprised of volunteers from large research universities across the country and led by Eric J. Barron, president of Pennsylvania State University – will also hold informal conversations with members of the Rutgers community during their visit. All at Rutgers are advised to be prepared to talk about the university with team members the week after spring break.
Rutgers started preparing in the fall of 2015 for the culmination of the current 10-year accreditation cycle with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a peer-based membership association dedicated to promoting standards of excellence and improvement in higher education. A university must be accredited to be eligible to receive federal education funding, such as grant money for research and financial aid for students. Rutgers last completed the process in 2008.
More than 100 faculty, administrators, students and members of Rutgers’ governing boards conducted an intensive self-study of the university that was presented to the Middle States team in February in preparation for the visit.
The self-study report was compiled as a comprehensive reflection on Rutgers’ strengths and challenges, touching every aspect of the university – from academic programs, planning and governance to support for the student experience.
Barbara Lee, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs, and Ann Gould, a faculty member in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences’ Department of Plant Biology and immediate past chair of the Rutgers University Senate, led a 25-member self-study steering committee which finalized the report. The purpose of the document was to demonstrate that the university fully meets the commission’s seven standards. These include:
- Assuring the university’s mission and goals are clearly aligned
- A review of policies and practices that pertain to ethics and integrity
- A look at the rigor and coherence of all learning experiences
- An analysis of support provided for students from admission through graduation and their pursuits beyond their current studies
- A review of educational effectiveness and learning assessment
- A look at the alignment of strategic planning efforts, resource distribution, and institutional assessment and improvement
- A review of the university’s governing structure, leadership and administration.
Soon after the March visit, Rutgers will receive a draft of the report from the team chair and will have a chance to respond before the final report is submitted to the Middle States Commission, which will vote on Rutgers’ accreditation in June.
President Robert Barchi will notify the university community of the final outcome after the vote.
Rutgers’ next full accreditation review will take place in 2027, as the commission begins the transition to an eight-year cycle.