June 28, 2011
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
Middle States’ report commends
Slippery Rock University
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Slippery Rock University has received an affirmative vote of confidence from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which this week announced its decision “to reaffirm accreditation” of the University.
In issuing its letter, the commission also commended the University on the quality of its self-study process, its report and its progress to date.
“Congratulations are due to the entire campus for putting Slippery Rock University among the very elite in satisfying the expectations of Middle States' accredited universities and colleges,” SRU President Robert Smith said upon receiving the official notification.
The commission’s evaluation team, headed by John Ettling, president at SUNY-Plattsburg, spent three days on campus in March examining details of the self-evaluation study and interviewing faculty, staff, students and members of the SRU community about the effectiveness of SRU’s programs.
At the conclusion of its visit, the evaluation team noted in an oral report that the University met all 14 standards of excellence. They also issued commendation to SRU in nine of the standards.
“Since its last full Middle States accreditation review a decade ago, Slippery Rock University has made enormous progress toward its goal of becoming a premier residential university. The current president and provost [William Williams] have worked together as a team for seven years and have provided the steady leadership that has guided this remarkable transformation. The team commends both men,” the report said.
“Other commendations flow from this superb achievement and are contained in the team’s commentary on the institution performance on each of the 14 standards.” “A clearly stated mission and compatible goals provide the foundation for omnipresent, campuswide planning, assessment and subsequent improvement in all aspects of campus life – enrollment management, curriculum development, fund raising, resource allocation, student life, facilities, etc. The team came away from the visit convinced that the faculty and staff are not just paying lip service to the importance of planning and assessment, but rather have come to believe in its benefits. They correctly attribute much of the institution’s success in the last few years to this closed circle of continuous improvement,” the report said.
The visitation team said morale on campus is based on “civility, mutual respect and pride in the accomplishments of the last few years. Shared governance on campus works well. The relationship between the Council of Trustees and campus leadership appears to be strong, as does that between the system administration and the campus leadership.”
In examining the physical structure of the University, the commission noted, “Replacement and renovation of several old buildings and the construction of some new buildings has provided state-of-the-art educational, residential and dining facilities. All of the new spaces are LEED certified in keeping with the University’s Climate Commitment and resulting in substantial reduction in the use of natural resources and energy cost savings.”
“The student life staff shows a true commitment to students and assist in facilitating a small college feel for all students,” the committee wrote, and noted, “SRU shows a commitment to diversity and multiculturalism through its sustained efforts that include four President’s Commissions designed to better understand campus issues. In addition, the creation of a senior-level diversity officer that reports to the president demonstrates a strong commitment.”
"Slippery Rock University has placed professional accreditation of programs as a high priority in the validation of high quality learning outcomes. The University has also kept abreast of changing technologies as they impact the learning process,” the report stated.
“We were pleased when the commission’s evaluation team found no major faults in our academic programs when it offered departure comments at the end of its visit. We were truly elated to receive official word that our re-accreditation had been granted with accolades,” Smith said.
The University received the maximum continuation of its accreditation. Its next periodic report is due June 1, 2016. SRU received its first Middle States accreditation in 1943.
“This is the seal of approval for a university. Faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of SRU should be proud of the commission’s positive comments offered in support of the University’s excellent academic programs” Smith said.
“On behalf of the Council of Trustees, I commend President Smith, his leadership team, the faculty, staff and others that helped the University earn this prestigious honor. Those of us involved in the life of the University know we have a quality institution, but it is indeed heartening to have that quality and leadership in education recognized and celebrated by an outside commission dedicated to maintaining excellence in higher education,” said Joshua Young, chair of SRU’s trustee council.
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 international locations.
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.
“The two-year re-accreditation process, including a year-long self-evaluation process, was started in 2009, and it was exhausting. More than two dozen members of our accreditation study committee spent time reviewing and examining our programs,” Smith said. “Cindi Dillon, assistant to our provost, and Cornelius Cosgrove, a professor in our English department, deserve special thanks for their leadership in preparing the final report. Their work was phenomenal – and paid off handsomely.”
“While we are very confident about the academic programs at Slippery Rock University, there is always some nervousness when your programs are put under a microscope for any possible flaws by an outside reviewer,” Smith said. “We put our best foot forward, and demonstrated that our programs are truly outstanding and provide students the knowledge and practical experience they will need to compete in the global economy. The report confirms that Slippery Rock University delivers on its promise to provide a ROCK SOLID education,” Smith said.
The Middle States evaluation examines 14 key education areas, including mission and goals; planning, resource allocation and institutional renewal; institutional resources; leadership and governance; administration; integrity; institutional assessment; educational effectiveness; student admissions and retention; student support services; faculty; educational offerings; general education; related educational activities; and assessment of student learning.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.