DCC’s Middle States Accreditation Process Off to a Great Start

Sept. 10, 2021 -- The important Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) re-accreditation process kicks into high gear this fall, with a tight schedule of action items including meetings with the College’s MSCHE vice president liaison and the development of the first drafts of DCC’s self-study.

The self-study process is being led by three co-chairs: Susan Rogers, associate dean of academic affairs; Scott Schnackenberg, director of institutional research, planning, & assessment; and Michael Hall, chair of the behavioral sciences department and professor of psychology. During a public forum during DCC’s convocation held Aug. 19, Susan Rogers and Scott Schnackenberg presented a summary of the College’s efforts to date.

Spring 2021 accomplishments included: 

  • Extending DCC’s Strategic Plan to determine priorities and guidance for the self-study.

  • Appointing the self-study working groups and issuing their respective charges.

  • Drafting a communication plan and creating and internal and external web presence.

  • Drafting the self-study design which includes an aggressive working plan for the 2021-22 academic year.

“The campus community has really rallied to support the work of re-accreditation,” said Schnackenberg. “We are so appreciative to the more than 50 individuals across campus who have become directly involved in the work.”

DCC last completed the Middle States process in 2016 and successfully completed a mid-point peer review in 2020. That report, along with details of the current process, can be found on myDCC. The site also lists members of the steering committee and the eight working groups who will look at DCC’s five strategic goals and overlay three priority areas that the self-study steering committee has identified as its institutional priorities for the MSCHE review.

The DCC Strategic Plan identifies these five strategic goals:

  1. Increase student success.

  2. Promote collaborative campus culture.

  3. Enhance institutional effectiveness through integration of assessment, planning and resource allocation.

  4. Contribute to the vitality of the region through community engagement.

  5. Embrace diversity as part of our institutional identity.

The three priority areas selected for this review include:

  1. Excellence in student achievement and learning.

  2. Strategic academic offerings and utilization of resources to secure institutional longevity and sustainability in service to our students and alumni.

  3. Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence.

The work of the self-study will be completed by eight working groups and coordinated by the steering committee. Groups are comprised of faculty, staff, trustees and students. These working groups will examine how each of DCC’s priorities meets the Middle States accreditation standards, requirements of affiliation and verification of compliance with accreditation-relevant federal regulations.

There are seven MSCHE re-accreditation standards that will be addressed in the final report:

  • Mission and goals

  • Ethics and integrity

  • Design and delivery of the student learning experience

  • Support of the student experience

  • Educational effectiveness assessment

  • Planning, resources and institutional improvement

  • Governance, leadership and administration

“Each working group is critical to the success of the self-study,” said Hall. “And wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of the faculty and staff who have assumed working group chair and steering committee roles on campus.”

Timeline

This fall, the working groups will develop a draft outline of their respective focus areas or standards, indicating which priorities they will emphasize and what kinds of evidence or data will be needed to address a specific criterion. From November through December, the working groups will submit reports to the steering committee, soliciting input and feedback with the goal of finalizing their respective standard’s “game plan” by the end of the semester.  

In early spring 2022, the working groups will flesh out their respective outlines and initial reports, linking criteria to specific evidence documents and analyzing how the College meets expectations or exceeds the standard and its criteria. The working groups will also examine gaps in policies, procedures or structures that may suggest areas in which the College has work to do in order to maximally comply with the standards. The groups will also examine and make recommendations for how DCC can strengthen its efforts to improve student learning and institutional effectiveness and make progress toward achieving the College’s mission and goals as articulated in the strategic plan.

By mid-spring, the working groups will have submitted their findings to the steering committee, received feedback and updated their reports, and be ready to share with the campus community to solicit comments and suggestions. Over the summer months and into the fall, the working groups will consider the input from the campus community and make revisions, including data from the recently completed academic year. By mid to late fall 2022, the combined efforts of the working groups will be submitted to MSCHE’s external review team in the form of a draft self-study report.

The last phase of the initiative sees the working groups making final edits to the self-study report, and finally, preparing for and participating in the MSCHE review team’s site visit to the DCC campus in spring 2023.

“The re-accreditation self-study is an enormous undertaking, and colleges that have faculty and staff who are willing to roll up their sleeves and contribute are the ones who pass through with flying colors,” said Rogers. “Based on the work of the working groups so far, I’m confident that we will be looking at a successful MSCHE visit in spring 2023.”

For a detailed timeline, see the self-study design document posted under the Middle States Self-Study tab in myDCC. 

For questions about the self-study process, contact the MSCHE steering committee and working groups at MiddleStatesSelfstudy@sunydutchess.edu.