Plymouth State University has received notice of its continuing accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
NEASC is the nation’s oldest regional accrediting association serving some 1,864 public and independent schools, colleges and universities in the six states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as 117 American/International schools around the globe. PSU’s next visit by a NEASC evaluation team won’t be for another 10 years (2013) — the maximum time granted between visits. However, a five year progress report will have to be submitted in 2008, a standard practice when there are 10 years between scheduled visits.
In a letter from the NEASC Commission on Institutions of Higher Education to President Donald P. Wharton notifying him of PSU’s continuing accreditation, it states, “The continuation of Plymouth State University in accreditation is based on the Commission’s finding that Plymouth State substantially meets the Standards for Accreditation. The institution is commended for its success in fashioning a new general education program, including a new freshman seminar. The Commission is also gratified to note Plymouth State’s emphasis on service to the community it serves in northern New Hampshire, its commitment to students, and the sense of community shared by the faculty, staff, and students of the institution.”
To prepare for institutional re-accreditation by NEASC, Plymouth State underwent a three year self-study, in which 13 standards were reviewed in an effort to create a road map for the institution going forward. “The self-study had a very important role in the accreditation process, as it reflects both what we feel are our strengths, concerns and aspirations, and what the NEASC team found” says Wharton. “To have the Commission’s finding align with, and confirm, our findings, is what we wanted out of the report.”
The five year progress report due in 2008 will focus on five key issues: governance, general education, scholarship and research, graduate programs and finance. Wharton says, “These are all good things for us to take a hard look at and address.” He says internal governance is something to be fixed. It is a priority for the institution to reform and reinvigorate its governance. General education is already in the process of being implemented. The five year report will reflect on how well PSU’s conversion to a new general education program has progressed.
Relative to NEASC’s recommendations regarding the graduate school and financing, Wharton says those are cautionary. “We must exercise care in assuring proposed new master’s degrees reflect the current successful model relative to audience, delivery system and financing. As for our overall financial situation, we have lots of good information. We need to use it to make good plans moving forward, but remember to continually analyze our economic context and how it affects us.”
For more information on NEASC, PSU’s continuing accreditation from NEASC, and/or the self-study report, visit www.plymouth.edu/library/Self-Study/