OSWEGO — The team appointed by the Middle States Association’s Commission on Higher Education to examine SUNY Oswego and how it fulfills its mission delivered a “clean audit” to the campus community Wednesday morning.
The oral report concludes the team’s firsthand examination of the college in one of the final steps before the commission makes its decision on reaccrediting Oswego in June.
“You should be really proud,” Dr. F. Javier Cevallos, president at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and chair of the team of external evaluators, told the gathering in the Campus Center. Calling the result of the four-day visit “a clean audit,” he said, “You’re doing a great job.”
Cevallos said the team found no grounds to issue either recommendations or requirements, the two categories of findings that would oblige the college to follow up with corrective action. At the same time, Cevallos reported more than a dozen areas in which the team commended the college.
College President Deborah F. Stanley praised the college community, the campus reaccreditation steering committee and especially its co-chairs, Dr. Julie Pretzat and Dr. Elizabeth Dunne Schmitt, for the successful conclusion of the multiyear preparations for the college’s reaccreditation.
“This is certainly the most positive 10-year review our campus has had, and it testifies to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff and students in all that we do as a community of learners and teachers,” said Stanley, who has been president at Oswego since 1997.
The areas of commendation that Cevallos listed included the increase in student participation in study abroad; increased enrollment of students from underrepresented groups; comprehensive and thorough planning activities; maintaining funding for academic affairs during a time of fiscal constraint; establishing a task force model with a one-year timeline to achieve efficient progress in faculty governance matters; a model strategic plan in academic affairs; the college’s multimillion-dollar capital improvement plan; creating a campus culture of assessment and evaluation; student support services including the Compass, Summer Scholars Program, McNair Program, Educational Opportunity Program and others; the recent introduction of midterm grades to help students accurately judge their academic progress; the attitude of caring and support for students; the friendly and collegial atmosphere; and the college’s nationally recognized community engagement and students’ volunteer and service activity.
“You care about student success, and it shows,” Cevallos said.
He also made a number of suggestions, many of which came out of the college’s own self-study portion of the reaccreditation process. They ranged from developing one standard form for students to evaluate faculty to using peer institutions and national benchmarks more in assessing the college’s performance.
In addition to Cevallos, members of the team included Dr. Gregory S. Blimling, vice president for student affairs at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; Robert D’Augustine, interim vice president for administration and finance at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; Dr. Gerald Ray Miller, professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park; Dr. Stanley M. Nyirenda, director of institutional research, assessment and evaluation at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Dr. David Prensky, associate professor and former dean of the School of Business at the College of New Jersey; and Dr. Rick Ruth, vice president for information technologies and services at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.
Cevallos noted that he was “fortunate to work with a very experienced team” who knew their charge and went about fulfilling it efficiently and cordially. Cevallos himself previously chaired another Middle States team and served on an external review team for the Northeastern States Association’s Commission on Higher Education.
Accreditation by one of the regional accrediting bodies ensures that a college is offering an education of sound quality that adheres to recognized standards as well as making the institution eligible for federal funding.
Every 10 years, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Higher Education reaccredits SUNY Oswego. Prominent in the reaccreditation process are the campus self-study and the external review. The entire reaccreditation process helps evaluate SUNY Oswego’s progress over the past 10 years and inform plans for the future.
More information about Oswego’s 2012 reaccreditation effort is available online at http://www.oswego.edu/academics/middlestates