Emerson is currently in the process of seeking reaccreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), a standard peer review process for educational institutions that assures their quality and fosters academic improvement, according to the NEASC website.
The procedure occurs every 10 years, according to Linda Moore, vice president of academic affairs.
NEASC is the regional accreditation agency for colleges and universities in six New England states. It is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a reliable authority on the quality of education for the universities it accredits.
According to Moore, to prepare for the the process, 11 committees—one for each standard of becoming accredited — were created by the college to start the project in Sept. 2011. The college will know if it is reaccredited in April.
“There are 11 standards that we have to meet, and they range all the way from meeting criteria regarding faculty, to student life, to facilities and we have to report on how we meet these standards,” said Moore. “And then a group of people — professionals in higher ed — evaluate our report. They will come to campus and ask questions and then say yes or no, you meet these requirements or you don’t.”
The committees are comprised of staff and faculty members across the Emerson campus. They collate data on their specific standards and use this data to create a narrative of Emerson — a story that will allow NEASC to understand what Emerson is like without spending ample time on campus.
“When you look at the data and you look at the narrative, it should tell a story of who we are as an institution,” said Moore.
The standards set out by NEASC are: mission and purposes, planning and evaluation, organization and governance, academics, faculty, students, library and information resources, physical and technological resources, financial resources, public disclosure, and integrity.
Moore will be leaving Emerson at the end of this school year. She decided to postpone her retirement to see President M. Lee Pelton, who began at the college in July 2011, through his first year at Emerson and to oversee the reaccreditation process, according to an email to students and faculty at Emerson about her retirement.
According to Moore, a study evaluating the standards will be sent to NEASC by March 1.
Once the self-study is sent to NEASC, a group of educators from other New England institutions will come to Emerson to evaluate the college next April. They will speak with faculty, staff, and students, as well as inquire about any data they want to know more on from the self study.
Part of the information-gathering process involves surveys given out to freshmen and seniors every other year, according to Moore. The National Survey of Student Engagement that was administered by Emerson allows the school to see how students view life at the beginning of college and again at the end.
This year, however, sophomores were also asked to fill out a survey.
“I am interested in knowing when students go into their first semester of sophomore year, what are they thinking?” said Moore. “I know what they are thinking when they come in the door, and I know what they are thinking when they leave, but I’m really interested in knowing what are they thinking after their first year here.”