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Students examine the importance of Middle States accreditation

Who decides that colleges are colleges? In Pennsylvania, campuses are evaluated every ten years by Middle States – and Saint Vincent is currently undergoing its evaluation.

Middle States team members visited campus on Sunday, March 12 through Wednesday, March 14 to assess campus programs. The group returned to campus to evaluate and reaccredit the college and seminary.

Claire Jackman, senior biology major, explained why she thinks Middle States is important and why the visit matters for students.

She has served as the Student Government Association executive secretary before later becoming executive president. Jackman has worked on Middle States information over the course of her years at Saint Vincent.

“At the most basic level, the accreditation means that our degrees matter once we graduate. On a deeper level, it helps us to evaluate what Saint Vincent is doing well as it helps students grow and improves the student experience,” Jackson said.

Jackman also detailed the 10-year reaccreditation process: every 10 years the college compiles information relevant to the accreditation

“In the next two years, committees will begin the process again and spend roughly eight years preparing the 100-page document that is submitted to Middle States,” Jackman said.

This document is available for student review and details how the college meets the seven standards that are presented to the committee.

The standards include: mission and goals; ethics and integrity; design and delivery of the student experience; support of the student experience; educational effectiveness assessment; planning, resources, and institutional improvement; and governance, leadership, and administration.

Jackson explained that students were assigned to work on committees for each standard, were the teams compiled and submitted information.

Jackson worked on the standard, “design and delivery of the student experience,” and spent nearly two years gathering the information.

The visiting committee held meetings with different committees made up of faculty and administration members, and attended lunches with student representatives.

“I think the group likes to meet with actual students at these lunches, and get to talk to them about how meaningful Saint Vincent actually is,” Jackman said.

Kaitlyn Sciullo, a senior English major, served as SGA executive vice president and attended a luncheon with the Middle States committee.

Sciullo said that student input is important to the Middle States reaccreditation process.

“Through SGA I was able to meet advisors from different schools visiting for Middles States at a dinner held in the Rodgers Center. I shared my experiences as a Saint Vincent student and was able to connect with the team members,” Sciullo said.

Jackman also shared the committee’s findings and recommendations.

“The team submitted their response on what they felt that we do well, and what they recommend we improve on. They were very impressed with SGA and the work that they do on campus,” Jackman said.

According to Jackman, the committee felt that SGA represented the student voice well.

Jackman said, “They recommended that we do better on our assessments and quantifying our data, but that SGA’s annual surveys were very well designed.”

Middle States is a non-governmental, voluntary association that examines higher education organizations as a whole, rather than specific programs within the institution.

Middle States serves high education initiatives in Delaware, DC, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Photo: SVC Flickr

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