Video: The Middle States Steering Committee Kicks Off Feedback Phase

Video: The Middle States Steering Committee Kicks Off Feedback Phase

Middle States Steering Committee Kicks Off Feedback Phase from Syracuse University News on Vimeo.

Syracuse University’s Middle States Reaccreditation Steering Committee hosted a campuswide self-study feedback kickoff event on Tuesday, April 18, in the Schine Center’s Goldstein Auditorium. Two identical sessions were held to update the campus community about the process of securing reaccreditation from the Middle State Commission on Higher Education and to invite feedback on the preliminary draft self-study report.

Middle States Steering Committee Kicks Off Feedback Phase

Syracuse University’s Middle States Reaccreditation Steering Committee will host a campuswide self-study feedback kickoff event on Tuesday, April 18, in the Schine Center’s Goldstein Auditorium. Two identical sessions are scheduled—11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.—to update the campus community about the process of securing reaccreditation from the Middle State Commission on Higher Education and to invite feedback on the preliminary draft self-study report. Read more about it at SU News.

Senate, start your engines: Middle States Self-Study Feedback Needed

This week began with a bang signaling the start of the official Middle States self-study review by the University Senate.

Monday, the tri-chairs of the Middle States Steering Committee met with committee co-chairs of the University Senate to share ideas for University improvement generated from the self-study process. These ideas had been labeled the Parking Lot issues, meaning that some of them were not directly related to Middle States standards but were developed from discussions and were worthy of further attention by various Senate committees or University administrative units. Ideally, Senate committees will review the Parking Lot idea list and determine if the idea is something their committees should help address and/or develop.

The goal is that no idea would go into an internal abyss never to be heard of again. Instead, each idea would be entertained through an appropriate Senate committee and/or administrative unit and then a report be given back to the Middle States Steering Committee before the site team visit in 2018.

Additionally, on Monday, all senators received a copy of the first three chapters of the Middle States self-study draft report for their review and feedback. Chapter Four of the draft was distributed on Tuesday; that chapter details how the University is in compliance with each of the seven standards, showcases areas of strength for the University in each standard, and notes areas where the University must continue to make improvements based on the standards.

Today (March 29), Middle States Tri-Chair Rochelle Ford, Newhouse professor and Public Relations Department chair, presents to the Senate to give an overview of the process and the findings, and to entertain questions from the Senate. Then between now and September, members of the Senate are encouraged to give feedback on the draft.

Particularly since the University Senate functions as an advisory body to the Chancellor and represents all aspects of the University community, the Senate’s feedback is critical to this process of peer review, reflection, and momentum.

Already 22 senators have participated in the Middle States self-study effort to research and write this initial draft. The Middle States Steering Committee appreciates the entire Senate starting its engines in this review process and continuing to provide feedback on the self-study draft.

The entire campus will have an opportunity to review and provide feedback beginning on April 18. For more information visit

Rochelle Ford

Middle States Blog: March Madness

Spring Break is over, spring is here, but winter is not gone—all signs of March Madness. March also signaled the first major review of the Middle States Self Study Draft by the Steering Committee.

After the seven self-study teams compiled detailed reports on the seven standards, the tri-chairs combined those reports into one narrative with the help of Carol Boll, a writer and researcher with Public Affairs and the Office of News Services.

Over spring break, the Steering Committee members read the draft and submitted their feedback. On Monday, March 20, it met to discuss the draft to ensure the working groups’ ideas and findings were incorporated as well as recommendations and ideas for continuous improvement.

Later this month, the University Senate will review the draft along with officers and administrators of the University. The Middle States tri-chairs will present to the Senate on March 29, before the draft is opened for a five-month public comment period.

To kick off the public comment period, the University will host the Middle States Self Study Kick-Off Forum on April 18 to help the University community to learn more about accreditation, assessment, and institutional learning outcomes before reviewing the document online.

For now, March Madness is editing for the Steering Committee, and hopefully it will usher in April’s showers of comments and feedback from the University community on the Middle States Self Study.

By Rochelle L. Ford


Q&A: Associate Provost Jeff Stanton on Why Middle States Matters

Last fall, the Syracuse University campus community began hearing frequent references to Middle States and the reaccreditation process now underway. The foundational work leading up to the 10-year reaccreditation review with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education actually had begun a year earlier, and last fall the institutional self-study required as part of the review began taking shape. The self-study looks at every aspect of University operations, focusing specifically on how well our academic, administrative and operational practices align with our stated mission. Read the Q&A at SU News.

Middle States Blog: Empowerment Through Information

Information is power!  Information is empowering! Information is key to decision-making. Finding information easily is critical to our success in the Middle States accrediting process.

One of the requirements for Middle States, woven throughout the seven standards, is communicating well to various constituencies, stakeholders, and members of the University community. Recognizing that we do a lot of communication very well, we still must continue to improve. And improvement takes all hands engaged in the process.

The launch of the University’s redesigned website is an example of our moving forward in an attempt to improve communication. Congrats to the teams of professionals from marketing communications and ITS under the leadership of Nicci Brown, vice president of communications and chief marketing officer. Initial feedback has been very positive.

However, the launch of the website is not the end of the process, and the team continues to want your feedback on how to improve.

One of the features of the new website is the student consumer information page. Bringing together this information met a federal government requirement, which Middle States in turn is required to verify; and the marketing communications and ITS team worked together to ensure this information was easier to find.

Another addition that helps us to meet Middle States requirements is the compliance page, which gives information about how the University addresses various federal and state regulations.

Although we do not like to discuss grievances, disputes and criticisms are part of life in any organization, large or small. The federal government requires that the students’ grievance processes are accessible, and the website team met the challenge. Middle States verifies our compliance for the federal government.

Additionally, the University is attempting to improve communication structure by creating a unified division of communication and marketing communication under the leadership of a new senior vice president who will report to the Chancellor and will be responsible for aligning all its functions, including internal and external communications, branding, web, and social media.

Creating one University, informed, responsive, and proactive, is a goal that the Middle States self-study process has been able to help the University improve.

By Rochelle Ford

Middle States Blog: What’s the Syracuse University 4+4? Integrative institutional learning outcomes needing your input

Syracuse University is known for many things, such as Orange, snow, amazing academic programs and athletics, and—of course—the legend of #44. Often this conversation results in specifying particular sports, schools, majors, research, or groups.

Since Syracuse is more than any one group and is One University, what common knowledge and abilities should all Syracuse University students have?

The University shares a mission and vision, which is achieved through the total student experience—both academic affairs and student affairs. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education requires, in Standards III and IV of its reaccreditation criteria, that all of its member institutions have either a common set of institutional integrative learning outcomes or a general education program taken by all students.

In 2015, the Academic Strategic Plan (developed through faculty, staff, student, and administrative input and approved by the Board of Trustees) called for the University to develop institutional learning outcomes that all students must achieve before graduation.

During the 2015-16 academic year, Working Group 1: The Student Experience drafted eight institutional learning outcomes that shape and describe what a Syracuse University graduate represents in the marketplace. Achievement of these competencies as well as academic program specific competencies will enable graduates to be ready for a career of their choosing and prepare for a life of learning. Working Group 1 labeled these the Syracuse University 4+4. After input from the University Senate, several University Senate committees, and other groups, such as the University Libraries, the Academic Strategic Plan Implementation Oversight Committee supported the Working Group’s 4+4 recommendation and included them among the implementation priorities submitted to University leadership for consideration.

The 4+4 represents a core set of knowledge and skills common to all graduates. They are in addition to the program-specific knowledge and skills that students develop as part of their chosen field of study. Integrity and ethics are central components of 4+4, filtering through all of the eight competencies. The eight competencies are divided equally between “reasonings” and “abilities.”

  • Creative Reasoning
  • Critical Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Scientific Reasoning
  • Applied and Collaborative Learning Ability
  • Civic and Global Abilities
  • Communicative Ability
  • Information and Technology Ability

The competencies are focused on the outcome of the total student experience, both classes and activities, and are meant to be viewed collectively. Students will achieve varying degrees of proficiency in each competency depending on their discipline and degree.

However, the Syracuse 4+4 is not finalized; we need more University feedback on them so we can better assure that they reflect student, faculty, and staff ideas of what competencies all Syracuse University graduates should possess. Therefore, the Provost’s Office has launched an engagement tour to introduce the Syracuse 4+4 and gather feedback. Members of Working Group 1: The Student Experience are meeting with faculty, staff, and student groups from both the Division of Academic Affairs and Division of Enrollment Management and the Student Experience this semester.

Thus far, Division of Enrollment and Student Experience directors, Whitman, the iSchool, Visual and Performing Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences have participated in the Listening Tour. Dates for others are being scheduled. Email to request a meeting.

Members of Working Group 1 also have reconvened to help the University community refine the Syracuse University 4+4 based on the feedback, to draft rubrics and data collection techniques to gather baseline measures of these outcomes, to begin developing an assessment plan, and to share what is learned in this process.

The results of this listening tour and Working Group 1’s efforts will be incorporated into the Middle States report.

The University needs our engagement with these learning outcomes. I urge you to attend one of the engagement sessions and offer your ideas and feedback.

Together we will help the University fulfill its mission and vision, implement the Academic Strategic Plan recommendation, and meet a Middle States requirement through these institutional learning outcomes called the Syracuse University 4+4.

By Rochelle Ford,

Middle States: NFL’s and Syracuse University’s Missions Incorporate Values to Set Tone of Operations

This week, millions around the world watched the Super Bowl and all of the ads and festivities surrounding it. Both the Patriots and Falcons had one goal—to win. The goal was clear. The players, coaches, employees, fans, and owners have the shared generic vision of having one of the best team franchises with winning records. However, the NFL has a specific mission that speaks about more than winning; it speaks to the league’s values.  Syracuse is no different; we have a mission and vision, and the goal is for every element of the University community to strive to achieve both.

It is important that each member of our university community—regardless of your position (staff, faculty, students, administrators, or members of the various boards)—know what our mission and vision are.

The vision reads:

Syracuse University aspires to be a pre-eminent and inclusive student-focused research university, preparing engaged citizens, scholars, and leaders for participation in a changing global society.

The mission is:

As a university with the capacity to attract and engage the best scholars from around the world, yet small enough to support a personalized and academically rigorous student experience, Syracuse University faculty and staff support student success by:

  • Encouraging global study, experiential learning, interdisciplinary scholarship, creativity, and entrepreneurial endeavors
  • Balancing professional studies with an intensive liberal arts education
  • Fostering a richly diverse and inclusive community of learning and opportunity
  • Promoting a culture of innovation and discovery
  • Supporting faculty, staff, and student collaboration in creative activity and research that address emerging opportunities and societal needs
  • Maintaining pride in our location and history as a place of access, engagement, innovation, and impact

The Middle States accrediting process focuses its analysis around how Syracuse University is working to fulfill our mission through our:

  • approach to ethics and integrity
  • curriculum and other student learning experiences
  • support for student experiences
  • assessment and institutional effectiveness measures
  • planning, resources, and approaches to institutional improvement
  • governance, leadership, and administration

As One University, we must strive in our individual realms of influence to fulfill our mission and to achieve our vision. When the Middle States visiting team comes to do our peer evaluation for the decennial reaccreditation review, they will want to see that we believe in the mission and are striving to achieve it.

Parking Lots to Moving Ideas

One strategy to use when a meeting generates more ideas than can be addressed within the context of the immediate agenda is to create a “parking lot” to corral those good ideas that—while tangential to the discussion at hand—may be worth addressing at a later time.

The Syracuse University Middle States Accreditation Working Teams used this parking lot technique as they analyzed the evidence to determine how we are in compliance with each of the standards to capture ideas for improvement across the University.

More than 50 ideas were generated through the self-study process this fall. Some were directly relevant to Middle States criteria, but some were just good ideas we don’t want to lose, so they went into the parking lot. This week, the Steering Committee discussed those ideas and came up with the following initial themes.

  • Increased formal engagement with University Senate
  • Continued improvements in information management and websites
  • Enhanced University communications through strategy and compliance
  • Continued updating of policies and procedures
  • Continued implementation of University-wide assessment
  • Continued development of University advising and student support
  • Continued refinement and introduction of Syracuse University 4+4 institutional-wide learning outcomes
  • Continued alignment of University budgeting

Several members of the Senate are members of the Steering Committee and participated in the working groups. In the coming months, the Steering Committee co-chairs will be sharing the ideas with the University Senate and with academic and administrative units.

One of the primary goals of this Middle States self-study process is to create momentum to make improvements. As we continue to refine and clarify the draft of the self-study, we hope the University community will begin to engage with these ideas of improvement.

In March, the University Senate will review the self-study draft. On April 18, the University community will engage in a Middle States Campus Conversation where we can learn about what we are doing well and how we are trying improve. We hope members of the University community will give us more ideas and share how their respective programs and units are making improvements.

Through these working groups, committees, the University Senate, the Campus Conversation, and individuals, we are using peer review to reflect on how we are meeting the University mission and gaining momentum to make Syracuse an even better place to be.

Rochelle Ford,

Middle States Self-Study Asks: Are We Doing What We Say We Do?

For the past four months, more than 140 members of Syracuse University’s faculty, staff, and student body have been exhaustively scrutinizing nearly every aspect of University programs, operations and services to determine how well it meets the standards and requirements of reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and how it might do even better. Read the full article at SU News.