University prepares for 2013-2014 reaccreditation

Gary Meyer and Toby Peters will co-chair the committee. Photo by A. Martina Ibanez-Baldor

Marquette recently began preparations for a self-study process and peer-reviewed reaccreditation site visit from the Higher Learning Commission during the 2013-2014 school year.

The university has developed a steering committee that will focus on all aspects of campus, forming sub-committees represented by faculty, staff and students. The reaccreditation process is necessary to ensure Marquette is up to current educational standards.

Gary Meyer, vice provost for undergraduate programs and teaching, was selected to chair the steering committee. Toby Peters, associate senior vice-president, will co-chair the committee.

Peters said two years is really not a long time to prepare for this visit.

“It’s very intentional to get all corners of the university involved,” Peters said.

Although the peer-reviewed reaccreditation process is technically voluntary, students cannot receive any federal financial aid without it.

“We voluntarily put ourselves through this process to demonstrate that we are operating at the highest level,” Meyers said.

The Higher Learning Commission currently requires five categories criteria for reaccreditation: mission and integrity; preparing for the future; student learning and effective teaching; acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge; and engagement and service.

The reaffirmation subcommittees will follow the criteria, and additional subcommittees will focus on federal compliance, evidence, communication and the actual site visit. The same subcommittees will assist in coordinating the visit and informing the Marquette community of the process.

Each sub-committee is co-chaired and will include about 12-15 members from across campus.

David Buckholdt, founding director of the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning, has chaired peer-review visits of other schools for the Higher Learning Commission. He said the role of the visit will check that Marquette meets the five criteria and provide consultation on how to note and improve Marquette’s strengths and weaknesses.

“It will give everyone here a chance to reflect on what we’ve accomplished since the last visit and where we want to go in the future,” Buckholdt said.

These voluntary visits happen roughly every 10 years. Peters said this reaccreditation visit will be different than last year’s because the Rev. Scott Pilarz, Marquette’s new president, can highlight his plans for the future.

“You know, he has a vision for taking Marquette to the next level,” Peters said. “How can we be better?”

Meyers and Peters said that close to 200 faculty, staff, administrators and students will be involved in this process by the 2013-2014 site visit.

“I think it brings staff, faculty and administrators together in a way we don’t always do,” Meyers said.

He said there really is no formula in planning for the visit.

“Sometimes you see that at universities where only a handful of people write the self-study,” Meyers said. “That’s not what I want to do here.”

Meyers and Peters said they will both continue to discuss this process to groups across campus. Groups who want a presentation should contact the two directly.