Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

September 28, 2000

Pitt self-study for Middle States focuses on "student experience"

The "student experience" is the focus of a Pitt self-study being prepared for the University's current accreditation review by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Pitt's 200-page draft report describes progress that the University has made in the last 5-7 years academically and in improving student life conditions (wiring residence halls for the Internet, for example).

The self-study also details administrative initiatives undertaken to support student experience improvements, including the University's long-range plans for upgrading campus facilities and technology.

To maintain its accreditation with Middle States, Pitt undergoes a formal evaluation every 10 years. An accreditation attests that, in the judgment of the Middle States Association, an institution is guided by well-defined and appropriate educational goals.

Pitt professional schools and some departments are accredited by individual associations, but the Middle States accreditation is the only one that is institution-wide, embracing all of the University's schools and regional campuses.

Middle States often allows institutions such as Pitt, whose accreditation is not in question, to choose a specific area on which to focus the required self-study. Ten years ago, Pitt's report examined the role of research here.

In response to Pitt's 1990 self-study, a Middle States evaluation team identified what it called several "perceived disbalances" at the University, including an emphasis on funded, applied research at the expense of teaching and academic research.

Pitt wanted its current self-study to show how much the University has done since the mid-1990s to improve undergraduate education and student life, said Vice Provost Elizabeth Baranger, who chairs Pitt's Middle States self-study steering committee.

The steering committee, made up of Pitt administrators, faculty and students, is divided into a student experience working group (chaired by Rainer Johnson, a professor in the physics and astronomy department) and a management initiatives working group (chaired by Registrar Samuel Conte).

The steering committee plans to review the self-study draft on Oct. 2, Baranger said.

After the steering committee has okayed the document, it will be sent for fact-checking to deans and other Pittsburgh campus personnel, city officials and regional campus administrators.

"After the fact-checking," Baranger said, "we will make the self-study report available for the general University community to make comments and corrections, to say what they think of the philosophy of it and whether we've left anything out — although, I don't think we've left out much. I mean, it's a big report."

Baranger said her committee will post the self-study on the Web and may also publish hard copies.

In November, the chairperson of the Middle States team evaluating Pitt — H. Patrick Swygert, president of Howard University — will visit here for a progress report. The full evaluation team will visit in late March.

On the last day of the team's visit, evaluators will report their findings at a meeting open to the Pitt community. Then the evaluation team will submit a written report to the Middle States Association's Commission on Higher Education.

"The higher education commission will meet, probably next summer, and either reaffirm our accreditation or ask for more information or whatever," Baranger said.

The Middle States Association is one of six regional organizations that cover the United States and its possessions. Middle States draws its membership from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 33 Issue 3

Leave a Reply