By Kaylee Lindenmuth
In June, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education issued a warning to KU, noting “its accreditation may be in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard V (Educational Effectiveness Assessment).”
Standard V states, “an accredited institution possesses and demonstrates the following attributes or activities:
- Clearly stated educational goals at the institution and degree/program levels, which are interrelated with one another, with relevant educational experiences, and with the institution’s mission;
- Organized and systematic assessments, conducted by faculty and/or appropriate professionals, evaluating the extent of student achievement of institutional and degree/program goals.
- Consideration and use of assessment results for the improvement of educational effectiveness.
- If applicable, adequate and appropriate institutional review and approval of assessment services designed, delivered, or assessed by third-party providers; and
- Periodic assessment of the effectiveness of assessment processes utilized by the institution for the improvement of educational effectiveness.”
According to the Middle States warning, KU remains accredited while on warning, though federal regulations “limit the period during which an institution may be in non-compliance to two years.”
Middle States has requested a monitoring report due March 1, 2019, “documenting that the institution has achieved and can sustain ongoing compliance with Standard V.”
“A small team visit will follow submission of the monitoring report,” the warning reads. “Upon reaffirmation of accreditation, the next evaluation visit is scheduled for 2025-2026.”
University President Dr. Kenneth Hawkinson spoke of the situation in the President’s Address, given Friday, Aug. 24.
“Warning indicates that the commission believes that, although the institution is out of compliance, the institution has the capacity to make appropriate improvements within a reasonable period of time,” Hawkinson said. “The university has been given two years to make these improvements; a first monitoring report is due March 1, 2019. Submission of a monitoring report is always followed by a small team visit when an institution is on warning.”
Hawkinson added that Middle States Vice President Dr. Idna Corbett will visit campus on September 12, meeting with campus leaders and faculty, and assessment and accreditation consultant Linda Suskie will do the same two days later, on Sept. 14.
“Assessment provides a means by which we can improve all facets of the university, including, but not limited to, the academic endeavors, the student affairs areas, the administrative offices, our processes and policies, and our facilities,” Hawkinson added. “Just as we ask our students to assess how they can improve their performance on an exam, on the athletic field, in an ensemble, in the studio or in conversation with others, we must assess our own areas in the realm of a student-focused approach.”
According to Hawkinson, Middle States indicates that all university academic programs should have student learning outcomes defined, to be regularly assessed and adjusted as needed.
“So, for Academic Affairs and the entire university, we have work to do,” said Hawkinson. “This is an extremely serious situation and all of us need to work together to be a part of the solution.”
Hawkinson also added that Middle States is concerned with ongoing budget deficits, noting that the university has used $18 million in cash reserves in the past four years to balance the budget.
“I cannot emphasize this enough, both by mandate from Middle States and directive of the State System, we cannot rely on our reserves to balance our budget going into the future,” Hawkinson said.