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March 22, 2001

Middle States team visiting here March 26, 27

As part of Pitt's current accreditation review, an evaluation team from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools will meet with hundreds of faculty, staff, students and administrators during its visit to the University on March 26 and 27.

The evaluation team, chaired by Howard University president H. Patrick Swygert, has reviewed a Pitt self-study report describing progress that the University has made academically and in improving student life conditions since the early 1990s.

"People were chosen to meet with the evaluation team based on the topics covered in our self-study," said Vice Provost Elizabeth Baranger, who chairs Pitt's Middle States self-study steering committee.

"So, for example, the team will meet with Admissions office staff and with student service people in the College of Arts and Sciences," Baranger said. "They will visit a dormitory, they will tour the library, they will meet with faculty in a variety of forums and they will talk with people responsible for improving academic facilities and technology. [Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs] Sharon Johnson is in charge of selecting students to meet with the team."

One evaluation team member will visit the Greensburg campus, and representatives of Pitt's three other regional campuses will meet here with team members, Baranger said.

"All told, the evaluation team will meet with a few hundred people during its visit," she said.

Based on these meetings and Pitt's self-study, the team will submit its findings to the Middle States Association's Commission on Higher Education. The commission, at a meeting this summer, is expected to reaffirm Pitt's accreditation, although the group may first request more information or clarification, said Baranger.

Pitt professional schools and some departments are accredited by individual associations, but the Middle States accreditation is the only one that is institution-wide. To maintain its accreditation with Middle States, Pitt undergoes an 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's self-study steering committee is made up of administrators, faculty, staff and students. It 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).

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.

Pitt's current self-study — a 126-page report called "Improvement of the Undergraduate Student Experience: Setting a Course for the Future" — is available on-line at:

— Bruce Steele

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