Accreditation work moving forward; senior leaders to play key role

by Bill O'Neill, UNMC Public Affairs | May 03, 2006

UNMC's senior leaders will play key roles in the campus's effort to earn reaccreditation without qualifications, say the four UNMC officials who are leading the reaccreditation effort.

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More on UNMC's re-accreditation process can be found at www.unmc.edu/nca.

"Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission is an institution-wide accomplishment, and the senior leaders on campus beyond Chancellor Maurer will play increasingly larger roles in the reaccredidation, as we move forward," said John Benson, M.D., a professor of internal medicine. "The buy-in to this process from the senior administration is essential to its success."

Dr. Benson is coordinating the reaccredidation efforts. For the second consecutive year, he and the three other members of the Executive Committee -- John Adams, Ph.D., David Crouse, Ph.D., and Mary Helms - attended the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Schools and Universities Annual Meeting in April. More than 3,500 people, from the association's 1,000 institutions, attended the meeting.

The group - led by Dr. Adams - presented two sessions on effective ways to communicate about reaccreditation within the self-study team and with the campus community. The group discussed self-study team's Blackboard informational site; the campus Website; UNMC Today articles; the faculty, staff and student survey; and presentations at Faculty and Student Senate meetings. In summarizing what has been learned, the group stressed the importance of establishing clear principles to guide the self-study process and the importance of keeping the leadership and the campus informed.

"A comprehensive approach to communicating about the process - within our accreditation committees and with the campus community and the general public - is a necessity for success in reaccreditation," said Dr. Adams, assistant vice chancellor for budget and strategic planning. "We think that we've done pretty well at sharing and providing, and the sessions provided us with some feedback that also will be useful."

Helms, associate director of the Library of Medicine, said that many of the presenters at the conference emphasized the importance of having administrators, faculty and employees prepared when the site visitors come to campus.

"The employees could be stopped in the hall by the site visitors and asked about the campus's mission and vision," she said. "We want to make sure that the employees aren't surprised in any way."

The site visitors - or "consultant evaluators" - will visit UNMC on Jan. 8-10, 2007. As of yet, their identities have not been shared with anyone at UNMC.

During the fall, campus leaders will "ramp up" their efforts in preparation for the site visit, said Dr. Crouse, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and associate dean for graduate studies. Until then, the leaders will be busy reviewing and signing off on UNMC's self-study report. A polished draft of the report - which will eventually encompass more than 150 pages - is scheduled to be forwarded to leadership in late May.

UNMC's reaccreditation will be judged on several criteria and several "core components" of each criterion. Generally, the criteria involve UNMC's mission and integrity in carrying out its mission; its focus on the future; its student learning and effective teaching; its research enterprise; its community service; and its authorization to expand distance education.