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The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is one of seven regional accreditors. Regional accreditors accredit entire institutions, not individual programs, units, or locations. MSCHE accredits colleges and universities primarily in its region: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The MSCHE is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that is dedicated to quality assurance and improvement through accreditation via peer evaluation. Middle States accreditation instills public confidence in institutional mission, goals, performance, and resources through its rigorous accreditation standards and their enforcement. Accreditation is a process of peer review that the educational community has adopted for its self-regulation since early in the 20th century. It is a voluntary process intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence. Special emphasis is paid to student learning outcomes and institutional effectiveness.
As part of the standard accreditation cycle, UMB must undergo a decennial evaluation every 10 years. Our next evaluation is in 2016.
The Middle States accreditation is separate and apart from the process each of our professional schools and their associated programs undergo routinely. Unlike the school-based accreditations, the Middle States accreditation is the certification we need to continue to receive federal funds to support our education and research missions. Without Middle States accreditation programs in the schools would be at risk.
The “Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education” are a set of fourteen (14) standards with which UMB must demonstrate compliance to maintain accreditation with MSCHE. The standards focus on two fundamental questions:
- Are we, as an institutional community, achieving what we want to achieve?
- What should we do to improve our effectiveness in achieving our fundamental aims?
- Standard 1: Mission and Goals
The institution’s mission clearly defines its purpose within the context of higher education and indicates who the institution serves and what it intends to accomplish. The institution’s stated goals, consistent with the aspirations and expectations of higher education, clearly specify how the institution will fulfill its mission. The mission and goals are developed and recognized by the institution with the participation of its members and its governing body and are used to develop and shape its programs and practices and to evaluate its effectiveness.
- Standard 2: Planning, Resource Allocation, and Institutional Renewal
An institution conducts ongoing planning and resource allocation based on its mission and goals, develops objectives to achieve them, and utilizes the results of its assessment activities for institutional renewal. Implementation and subsequent evaluation of the success of the strategic plan and resource allocation support the development and change necessary to improve and to maintain institutional quality.
- Standard 3: Institutional Resources
The human, financial, technical, physical facilities, and other resources necessary to achieve an institution’s mission and goals are available and accessible. In the context of the institution’s mission, the effective and efficient uses of the institution’s resources are analyzed as part of ongoing outcomes assessment.
- Standard 4: Leadership and Governance
The institution’s system of governance clearly defines the roles of institutional constituencies in policy development and decision-making. The governance structure includes an active governing body with sufficient autonomy to assure institutional integrity and to fulfill its responsibilities of policy and resource development, consistent with the mission of the institution.
- Standard 5: Administration
The institution’s administrative structure and services facilitate learning and research/scholarship, foster quality improvement, and support the institution’s organization and governance.
- Standard 6: Integrity
In the conduct of its programs and activities involving the public and the constituencies it serves, the institution demonstrates adherence to ethical standards and its own stated policies, providing support for academic and intellectual freedom.
- Standard 7: Institutional Assessment
The institution has developed and implemented an assessment process that evaluates its overall effectiveness in achieving its mission and goals and its compliance with accreditation standards.
- Standard 8: Student Admissions and Retention
The institution seeks to admit students whose interests, goals, and abilities are congruent with its mission and seeks to retain them through the pursuit of the students’ educational goals.
- Standard 9: Student Support Services
The institution provides student support services reasonably necessary to enable each student to achieve the institution’s goals for students.
- Standard 10: Faculty
The institution’s instructional, research, and service programs are devised, developed, monitored, and supported by qualified professionals.
- Standard 11: Educational Offerings
The institution’s educational offerings display academic content, rigor, and coherence appropriate to its higher education mission. The institution identifies student learning goals and objectives, including knowledge and skills, for its educational offerings.
- Standard 12: General Education
The institution’s curricula are designed so that students acquire and demonstrate college-level proficiency in general education and essential skills, including at least oral and written communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical analysis and reasoning, and technological competency.
- Standard 13: Related Educational Activities
The institution’s programs or activities that are characterized by particular content, focus, location, mode of delivery, or sponsorship meet appropriate standards.
- Standard 14: Assessment of Student Learning
Assessment of student learning demonstrates that, at graduation, or other appropriate points, the institution’s students have knowledge, skills, and competencies consistent with institutional and appropriate higher education goals.