It’s time for external review

Welcome back to Spring 2018 semester; the external peer review semester for our Middle States Accreditation!

So, what does that mean?  Middle States provided a nice flow-chart in its “Middle States Commission on Higher Education Self-study: Creating a useful process and report” to help explain what will happen this semester and a bit of what happened last semester. Following are the key points from that document.

Last Semester

From April to September 2017, the campus community, including the University Senate, completed its peer review of the draft Middle States Self-Study by reading the self-study draft and completing a survey about the extent to which the University community agreed with its findings and general recommendations for improving our campus that we want Middle States to hold us accountable for achieving.  Good news—There was wide agreement as to what was written.

In October 2017, our peer review site-team leader came to campus for a pre-visit, where he met with key constituency groups including the provost and Chancellor, Syracuse Abroad, some faculty and staff, our Middle States Steering Committee and the logistics team. This visit helped him to plan for the team’s visit this March 25-28.

In December 2017, Syracuse submitted its Verification of Compliance Document. An external peer reviewer from a similar university will review this document and submit a report.

Also in December 2017, we received the names of our eight other peer review site-team members who have a wide breadth of experiences in higher education and work for such universities as Maryland, Shippensburg, Johns Hopkins, Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, St. Louis and Cornell. Our site team is led by Dr. James Bean, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern University.

About six weeks before our visit (around February 9), the Middle States Commission will give our self-study to the peer review site team.

February 25-27, Syracuse Florence Center will host site team chair James Bean for him to evaluate the extent to which our largest Syracuse Abroad campus reflects the standards of our main campus in delivering a quality educational experience.

March 25-28, our peer review site team will conduct its evaluation team visit in Syracuse. The team will interview various groups of faculty, students, staff, Board of Trustee members and administrators. They will review more documentation to support what our self-study described and make observations of our facilities, environment, teaching and learning taking place on campus. On the final day, they will conduct an oral exit report to give a high-level review of their findings.

Later in the spring, the Middle States Commission will have the Committee on Evaluation Reports to review the information submitted by the peer review site team and make a proposal for action by the commission regarding Syracuse University.

Finally, the Middle States Commission will take action to reaffirm accreditation with or without follow-up, or to place the University on warning or probation status.

As we prepare for this spring semester, we encourage the University community to review our roles in assessment and strategic planning, and faculty to review the academic program review guidelines.

If you want a co-chair of the Middle States Steering Committee to come and talk with you or your team about Middle States, we would be happy to do so.


Rochelle Ford, Ph.D., APR
Professor and Chair, Public Relations
Tri-chair, Middle States Steering Committee