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Jan. 26, 2011

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab




Middle States Self-Study in the mail;

Slippery Rock University awaits visit


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Slippery Rock University’s “Middle States Commission on Higher Education Self-Study Report” is in the mail and the nearly 75-member committee that prepared the 100-page document is keeping its fingers crossed that their efforts will result in full approval.

            “Accreditation by the Middle States Commission is crucial to the continued success of Slippery Rock University,” said Robert Smith, SRU president. The commission has accredited SRU since 1943.

            SRU’s self-study, which was sent to the review team in both electronic and print format, is available to members of the SRU community from the University’s Middle States Web page: Those reviewing the document must use their SRU login ID to gain access.

Although voluntary, accreditation by the Middle States Commission is regarded as the “seal of approval” by educators, business leaders and government officials as a measure of a university’s ability to meet the necessary standards showing the institution meets national standards in providing education and personal growth opportunities to its students.

            The Middle States Accreditation applies to the entire University, as opposed to individual program accreditations.

            “We urge faculty, staff and students to read and become familiar with the entire report, especially those who will be talking and meeting with evaluators visiting campus for the formal review March 20-23. By reviewing the report now, those on campus will know what information evaluators already have and are considering,” said Cindi Dillon, assistant to the provost for academic affairs and co-chair of the report committee. Neil Cosgrove, professor of English, is also a co-chair.

            “A tremendous amount of work in thoroughly examining all of our academic programs, our methods of delivering education, our use of technology and our efforts as stewards of public and private funding, as well as a host of other activities were part of this comprehensive study. I am appreciative of everyone involved for contributing their time and efforts. I believe the Middle States visitation team will clearly see Slippery Rock University delivers a quality education to those who enroll here,” Smith said.

            “We are using this self-study to demonstrate we are meeting our mission and our vision as well as our commitment to becoming the premier residential public university for the region,” Smith said.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that defines, maintains and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations and resources. The commission is dedicated to quality assurance and improvement through accreditation via peer evaluation.

Middle States accreditation instills public confidence in institutional mission, goals, performance and resources through its rigorous accreditation standards and their enforcement.

John Ettling, president at SUNY-Plattsburg and chair of the Middle State evaluation team that will visit SRU March 20-23, said he was pleased with his first impressions of SRU during his October pre-evaluation visit.

Ettling met with faculty, staff and students as part of that visit. He outlined the team’s needs and expectations for the upcoming visit. He said the University’s continued accreditation was not in doubt. But, those on the campus study team have said not only do they want the visitation team to grant re-accreditation, they hope it will do so without major challenges or calls for dramatic change in the University’s delivery of programs.

Middle States self-study evaluations are conducted every 10 years.

“This review program provides the University the opportunity to demonstrate compliance with the 14 standards outlined in the MSCHE ‘Characteristics of Excellence,’” Cosgrove said. “The comprehensive self-study process, or peer review, is intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence and minimizing the scope of external control.”

Faculty, staff and students who wish to address the evaluation team will have opportunities to do so as part of on-campus committee report and open sessions. Those with specific interest should contact Dillon. The schedule will be posted as the event nears.

“We hope to give the team a fair and comprehensive evaluation of our campus,” Dillon said.

An exhibits/documents room will be set up in the Russell Wright Alumni House and Conference Center to allow team members to delve further into specific programs as outlined in the self-study report and its accompanying appendices.

The 14 standards under review, including seven under the “Institutional Context” category. They are missions and goals; planning, resource allocation and institutional renewal; institutional resources; leadership and governance; administration; integrity; and institutional assessment. The remaining seven standards are in the “Educational Effectiveness” category. They are: student admissions and retention; student support services; faculty; educational offerings; general education; related educational activities; and assessment of student learning.

The review addresses academics, student life, campus facilities and distance learning programs, among other issues.

“We have also tried to link the report to the economic conditions we find ourselves in,” said Cosgrove. “We have tried to be realistic in what programs we can effectively provide for our students, always with an eye toward helping them achieve their goals and aspirations.”




What is accreditation?

"Accreditation is a process of peer review that the educational community has adopted for its self-regulation since early in the 20th century. It is a voluntary process intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence. Institutions choose to apply for accredited status, and once accredited, they agree to abide by the standards of their accrediting organization and to regulate themselves by taking responsibility for their own improvement." From Middle States Commission of Higher Education Web site:


Why is accreditation important?

Accreditation means that standards of quality and excellence have been met. The standards of excellence for universities accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education span topics such as quality faculty, quality programs, sound fiscal planning and processes, the assessment of processes especially learning, and integrity. 


What does Slippery Rock University’s re-accreditation mean to students?

 The continued assurance of:

                             the quality of classes and programs

                             the quality of faculty, administrators and staff

                             the quality of support services

                             the value of a Shippensburg diploma

                             access to federal financial aid


What is Middle States?

 "The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is the unit of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region, which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several locations internationally. The commission is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations, and resources. It examines each institution as a whole, rather than specific programs within institutions." (From: