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NEASC review to take college's temperature

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • November 8, 2012

At issue: Emerson seeks reaccreditation. 

Our take: The doctor is in. 

Emerson has health on the brain. As the threat of chicken pox looms over students who are unvaccinated or missed soaking in oatmeal baths during the requisite week off in elementary school, the college has its own check-up in the works.  

Emerson’s health as an academic institution will be examined as it continues to undergo reaccreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Submitting to the industry-standard process once every decade allows third party professionals to evaluate where the college finds its strengths and deficits—to take its temperature, so to speak. 

Emerson’s administration has focused on updating its DNA to lead future classes of students into rapidly changing job markets. Self-evaluation has dominated President M. Lee Pelton’s inauguration and subsequent outline of a five-step plan to fortify Emerson’s infrastructure. The plan calls for the creation of a center for civic engagement, acknowledges the need for more classroom space, and seeks to create innovative academic offerings.

Holding a mirror to the college to survey problem areas, as Pelton has, is an essential component to making those improvements. However, the NEASC reaccreditation will make way for a second opinion in April. The peer review by external administrators and academics should help prevent Emerson from drowning in its own reflection. A school with such a fierce sense of its own personality risks out-of-touch immersion in its own mythology. 

Student-completed surveys are an important part of the reaccreditation effort’s information gathering. Emerson typically gives The National Survey of Student Engagement to its freshman and seniors to gauge how those students feel about their Emerson experience at the inception and completion of the college career. This year, the survey was extended to sophomores. As the internal review phase chugs along, we hope the administration will continue to engage with students to make our voices heard. 

Emerson may not sport a clean bill of health, but your honest feedback could be just what the doctor ordered.