Peer Review from Chancellor to You


Earlier this week Chancellor Syverud gave his 2017 Winter Message to the University community. In it he emphasized our working on our self-study for the Middle States accreditation.  The process of research, writing, reviewing, and editing the self-study report and the peer-evaluator site visit in 2018 are exercises in peer-review.

The process of researching, writing, and submitting an article for consideration in a peer-reviewed research journal is somewhat similar to what we are experiencing now in the accreditation process.

Consider the Middle States Commission on Higher Education like the editorial board of a journal.  They set the policy standards for accreditation in our region.  Representatives from different colleges and universities sit on this Middle States board.  Our chancellor, Kent Syverud is one of the newest commissioners.  Therefore, we have a voice at the table, but also, people may now be looking at Syracuse to be an exemplary institution in continuous improvement because of his presence on the commission.  He is also serving as a reader of Periodic Review Reports.

Just as many scholars have a team of students and collaborators working on research for an eventual refereed publication, we have a really large team representing students, faculty, staff, and administrators who have carefully analyzed documents, policies, and procedures of the University to determine if we are in compliance with the standards.  This team approach is a form of internal peer review.

This month, the tri-chairs of the Steering Committee and the co-chairs of the teams are ensuring that the key points of these drafts are clearly articulated as we begin to write the actual report—another level of internal peer review.

Then these summaries will be reviewed by the University’s Middle States Reaccreditation Steering Committee by University Senate and by the University Leadership Team to ensure we are accurately describing our University and continuing to improve based upon challenges and weaknesses identified in the drafts.

Next the entire University community will be engaged in a day of conversation in April to discuss the findings of the self-study, and later the full draft report will be released for University-wide review and commentary for additional internal peer review through early fall.

Those comments and suggestions will be addressed and incorporated into the final self-study report that will be sent to Middle States and our site visit / peer evaluator team, thus beginning the external peer review process.

Unlike a “blind” peer review process of a journal, we will know who these external evaluators will be, and they will come to campus in 2018 to determine if what we wrote is an accurate reflection of what they see on the ground.

You too can become a peer evaluator for other schools, colleges, and universities within Middle States, and some of our peer Middle States institutions are in places like Puerto Rico!  If you are interested in being a peer reviewer for other institutions, visit and complete the application.

Our SU peers like Libby Barlow, Jeff Stanton, and Jerry Edmonds have all done site visits. If you have been one before, we’d like to know. I am being trained to become a peer evaluator now as well.  Why don’t you join the Chancellor and our Middle States team and become a part of the peer review process too?

Rochelle Ford,