In summer 2007, Professor Ben van der Pluijm was tasked by Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Teresa Sullivan to lead the University’s reaccreditation effort, joined by Assistant Vice Provost Glenda Haskell, who had helped the provost with preliminary preparations, and in 2008 by Research Associate Elias Samuels. Campus discussions prior to the start of the self-study led to a proposal to the Higher Learning Commission for a special-emphasis study (SES) on Internationalization, which the HLC formally approved in 2008. The findings and recommendations that resulted from this SES are described in the section on Global Engagement at the University of Michigan.
Accreditation Working Groups
In support of the self-study and the internationalization special-emphasis study, the provost appointed five accreditation working groups (AWGs) to focus on the learning environment, the knowledge environment, the role of engagement and service, and internationalization. Descriptions of the charges of the AWGs, the memberships and chairs are posted under Resources. The AWGs were charged to focus on the meaning and value of their respective topics for the University of Michigan.
Looking beyond the scope of the University’s review for reaccreditation and in the spirit of continuous improvement, the AWGs were tasked to consider ways in which the institution might build on its current strengths. Each group was specifically asked to examine their respective topics from a faculty, student, and organizational perspective, with the aim to uncover the University’s roles and commitment in these areas. The groups were encouraged to explore current practices, but especially to take a forward-looking approach in their deliberations. In response to the latter part of their charges, each group produced a set of recommendations, which are available in five AWG reports. These recommendations include such items as changes in administrative structures, ways to enhance and streamline communication, ideas for more sharing of good practices inside the University, ways to promote greater collaboration within and outside the University, and activities that could be undertaken if new or reallocated resources were to become available (e.g., more training and education, additional staff support, renovated or new facilities, improved or new technologies and information systems).
In creating these AWGs, the University had two primary goals in mind. The first was for the groups to discuss the conceptual framework of key topics that reflect the heart of the University’s three-part mission and that link directly to several HLC criteria for accreditation: the student learning environment, the knowledge and creative environment, engagement, outreach and service, and internationalization. The discussions of these groups would lead to observations, concepts and framing that would be embedded into the University’s reaccreditation report. Secondly, the groups would propose recommendation for the future that support the University’s goals for continuous improvement.
Five AWG reports were produced whose content has been largely incorporated into this accreditation report (see Supporting Reports). Each group provided an examination of the intellectual underpinnings of its topic, mostly from a faculty and student perspective, and also offered recommendation for the future. The latter represents a combination of broad changes and specific suggestions for improvement. Although the AWGs were not asked to catalog the current activities at the University for each of the five HLC criteria and their core components, the relevant sections in this report include examples drawn from the AWG discussions.
Outreach and Information Gathering
In addition to supporting the Accreditation Working Groups, the accreditation team undertook a variety of activities to reach out to units and other leader at the University and beyond, including discussions with deans and school/college executive or advisory committees, meetings with staff on campus, a survey of graduating seniors, a survey of two alumni cohorts, a series of provost’s forums, and numerous discussions with internal and external constituency groups. Some are briefly described below.
The 2010 Reaccreditation Report
The reaccreditation report is purposely organized around the University’s activities linked to each of the five HLC criteria and the internationalization special-emphasis study. Each section starts with a description about the value and meaning of the topic for the University of Michigan, followed by representative examples of activities in the relevant areas that show our commitment to each topic and that demonstrate we meet the core components for reaccreditation. A distinctly forward looking section is located at the end of most sections, called Looking Forward, which offers recommendation that may be considered for the future. These recommendations are presented to stimulate further conversation and thought, and are not intended to convey institutional approval or commitment at this time. A concluding section summarizes our commitment and, where appropriate, our goals and paths for further improvement. This structure matches the format of the reaccreditation review. The introductions and current practices sections map to the assurance part of the HLC review that focuses on whether the University meets the criteria for reaccreditation, whereas the forward-looking sections and conclusions map to the advancement part that focuses on improvement and consultation.
In addition to the sections that address the five HLC criteria and the internationalization special-emphasis study, various supporting documents are posted in the Resources section, including a Portrait of the University of Michigan that follows the “College Portrait” structure of the Voluntary System of Accountability, University Snapshots, recent student and alumni surveys, and various campus reports. These and additional materials are also included in the “Resource Room”, which is part of the supporting materials that the HLC requires.
The web-based presentation of the 2010 reaccreditation report offers the user an interactive information environment, leveraging the power of the internet to include hyperlinks and nontraditional print media, capitalizing on the rich resources of the University’s existing and ever-growing web environment. The printed version retains the key information, but links and some graphic items are not included.